London Unveils New Hub To Help People in Distress

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The Cost of Living Hub will help Londoners access information, financial support and advice to help manage household financesreports Asian Lite News

 Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a new online Cost of Living Hub to help Londoners experiencing financial hardship as a result of spiralling inflation, increases in National Insurance and the raising of the energy price cap which comes into effect today.

The Cost of Living Hub will help Londoners access a wide range of information and advice including how to claim benefits that they are entitled to, help dealing with debt, financial management and mental health support.

The new online Hub includes targeted information for groups of Londoners who are more likely to experience poverty and financial hardship. For example, the Hub signposts disabled Londoners to disability benefits, older Londoners to Pension Credit, which is not taken up by nearly 100,000 eligible older Londoners, and low-income families to childcare entitlements.

With inflation set to hit at least 8 per cent and energy costs rising by 54 per cent this April, more Londoners face an impossible choice between heating their homes and paying for other basic essentials like food.

Some Londoners are already experiencing the impact of being moved off fixed tariffs and onto variable rates as a result of energy supplier failure. Adding a further overnight average increase of £693 will be incredibly difficult for many in the capital to deal with.

Polling earlier this year showed that 34 per cent of Londoners have struggled to pay their household bills in the previous six months. The Survey of Londoners also showed that fuel poverty disproportionally affects Black Londoners, single parents, social renters and disabled Londoners.

The knock-on effects of increased energy bills coupled with benefits not rising in line with inflation will risk more Londoners being plunged into poverty. The cost of living in London was already a challenge before the pandemic with prices seven per cent higher than the UK average, housing costs taking up a higher proportion of income and average weekly pay 5.9 per cent lower than in 2010 when accounting for inflation. This was in stark contrast to a 0.9 per cent fall of 0.9 across the UK.

In February, City Hall provided £200,000 to extend Debt Free London’s helpline for Londoners struggling with debt to become a 24-hour service until May. The free confidential and impartial advice helps Londoners with a range of problem debts, including rent arrears, council tax arrears, utility bills, credit card debt, and loan repayments.

The Mayor of London said: “I am deeply concerned about the impact that the soaring cost of living is having on Londoners. The increase in the energy price cap poses a significant challenge, especially to those on lower incomes whose energy bills are likely to take up a larger share of their outgoings.

“There is a clear and urgent need for Londoners to be able to access practical financial advice which could help them navigate this difficult period. I hope that anyone who is struggling will find the new Cost of Living Hub to be a useful resource.”

CEO of National Energy Action, Adam Scorer, said: “Today across London, millions of households will see their home energy bills soar by 50%. For those in or at risk of fuel poverty it could spell disaster; not just financial hardship, but to their physical and mental wellbeing. It is very welcome the Mayor is setting up the cost of living hub and is committed to supporting and expanding a number of vital programmes across the capital which can help offset some of this misery.”

Head of Information Programmes at Turn2us, Michael Clarke, said: “At a time when the cost-of-living is soaring, people are already being forced to make impossible choices in order to get by. With increasing energy costs coming into effect from April, this will undoubtedly make people feel uncertain and worried about their finances for the future. That is why it is great to see the Greater London Authority launch a cost-of-living information hub so people on the lowest incomes can access the right financial support at the right time.”

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