Vouchers as well as grants are provided by the Reading Council as part of their local welfare scheme, which is known as Financial Crisis Support. Assistance for emergency expenses or basic needs, such as lack of food, can be provided in one day. Other support around housing needs may take as long as ten days to provide.
This is a discretionary scheme that is only for households on a low income. They either need to be currently receiving income-related benefits or they need to be eligible to apply for them. This is what is used to determine if someone is eligible for a grant. Also, the applicant needs to be in a crisis with no other resources available to them.
Grants can be provided in the reading borough for travel to a GP or funeral or there can be emergency assistance for heating bills if the electricity has been shut off. For families that are out of food, the council may either provide a free parcel of groceries or give a voucher to a local food bank. Clothing can also be arranged from the charity known as Christian Community Action in Reading.
Other assistance can be provided to help someone settle in the borough. In these instances, the customer service team will mostly offer referrals, including to funeral payment assistance. This can be to schemes for paying a rent deposit or the Christian Community Action for furniture or white goods. So the exact type of help from the Financial Crisis Support Scheme will depend on what the family needs and whether there is even cash available to the authorities to help.
The Reading customer service also has information on energy bill assistance. This is one of the main challenges faced by the vulnerable in the city. Many immigrants and pensioners often struggle to keep their heat on, so there are Financial Support schemes that can top off a meter or provide grants for that cost. Find ways to get help with gas and electric bills from the council.
When applying for this welfare scheme, residents are not entitled to support. Any grants are issued solely at the discretion of the council. While there is an appeal process in place, it can take as long as fifteen days for this to take effect. Even then the government is under no legal obligation to assist. In fact, more likely than financial aid is the person being signposted to another local agency.
Also, the aim is to provide short term support so families should not depend on this programme to address a long term crisis they are threatened with. If other advice is needed, then signposting is done to the Citizens Advice Bureau or Welfare Rights Unit.
The Financial Crisis Support welfare scheme will require the applicant to be local to Reading as on benefits, or applying to them. What will qualify the family is if they receive Working Tax Credit, Jobseekers Allowance (income-based), Employment and Support Allowance, or the Pension or Universal Credit. This will ensure that any funds are for those who are most needy in the community.
All applications for the scheme need to go through the Customer Service team in Reading. There will forms that need to be completed as well as evidence to show income and the emergency bills that need to be paid. Individuals should have proof of identity, income, assets, and bank statements.
Even if an award is not given for Financial Crisis Support, referrals are also given to external not-for-profit organisations or Council programmes. This means the family can still learn about other assistance available to them, ranging from food banks to job training or even energy bill schemes.
The council needs to to see what bills the applicant has been paying and what they have been using their income for. Only after an assessment has been thoroughly done will a grant be issued for household living expenses. The team is located at Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading, RG1 2LU. Or ring 0118 937 3707 to apply over the phone.