From October every household in the country will start to receive £400 (in 6 instalments) to help deal with rising fuel bills, but the South Yorkshire Community Foundation wants to encourage those who are better off to donate this energy bill discount.
These donations would form part of the Foundation’s Cost of Living Fund, which would be distributed to community groups helping those in need.
David Price is a member of St Mark’s Church Broomhill, Sheffield, and is the secretary of the poverty and inequality group of the Diocesan Board of Faith and Justice. He comments:
“The idea is that the fund should support local initiatives which are addressing problems of poverty. We want to help local groups like foodbanks, debt advice units and community groups providing meals for people. Often these groups are run by church people. These groups will be able to apply to this fund to get money for their projects.
“Our proposal is that people who are reasonably well off could donate the money that the Government is giving them for their energy bills to this fund. This money then would go to help people in South Yorkshire who are really struggling at this time.
“It’s absolutely clear that Jesus expects us to be generous, Generosity is one of the great qualities that the Gospel leads us towards.
“In Sheffield something like this has been running since the Spring, and the project got £20,000 from the Council and £5,000 from people who donated. I believe that we could raise much more to cover the whole of South Yorkshire, and I’m confident people in our churches will help.
Energy bills were frozen in September at £2,500 for the next two winters, with the £400 energy rebate also confirmed to still be going ahead from October.
David has welcomed this, but says it doesn’t go far enough:
“It will be a great help, but the point I would make is that it doesn’t deal with all of the problems facing poorer families. If you have a small income, increases in the price of food and other things are really alarming, and you can face the choice between heating the flat in the winter and getting more food for your children. It’s a dreadful choice.
“Think about your fellow citizens and fellow churchgoers in South Yorkshire, a region which isn’t particularly prosperous. There is very high level of child poverty and a lot of people are in need here. It should be possible for quite a number of better-off families donate the extra money they’ve received into this fund to help other people.”
The Diocese of Sheffield’s Board of Faith and Justice urges people who can afford to do so to consider donating to the SYCF’s Cost of Living Fund (or some other comparable charity).
Here are some ways of helping:
- All households are receiving £400 energy bill discount this winter. Those who can afford it can donate this discount to the SYCF’s Cost of Living Fund.
- Households in bands (A) to (D) should already have received £150 Council Tax rebate. This could be donated to the Fund.
- Pensioners will receive a £300 Cost of Living Payment alongside their Winter Fuel Payment. This could be donated to the Fund.
If you would like to donate to the SYCF Cost of Living Fund, please look up https://www.sycf.org.uk/southyorkshirecostoflivingfund/