Christmas can be difficult for lots of people for many different reasons.
Money worries can cause increased stress and anxiety. We know there will be families across the Borough still feeling cost of living pressures due to high global inflation caused by war in Ukraine.
We encourage anyone who is worried about money to contact the Council to find out what support they are eligible for. Please don’t suffer without seeking advice, there is help out there.
The Cowshed and First Days are two excellent local charities, supported by brilliant volunteers. They help people in crisis. We would highly recommend people who are struggling reach out to them.
This year Wokingham Borough Council was given just over £1 million from the Government to support people struggling with the cost of living. The Household Support Fund can help with covering the costs of essentials like groceries, toiletries, warm clothes, and energy bills. Families can also get help with free school meals during the holidays.
The Conservative Government is helping those that need it by delivering new winter cost of living support, helping vulnerable households with increased costs across the winter months.
Nationally eight million households will benefit from Cost-of-Living payments worth £900 in 2023.
Winter Fuel Payments have been increased by an additional £300; nearly three million people will receive a £150 rebate on their winter electricity bills through the Warm Home Discount, and the £25 Cold Weather Payment has come into effect for the winter.
It is important that the Liberal Democrat-led Council does what it can to support our residents here in Wokingham Borough. Unfortunately, too many times the Liberal Democrats are not making the right decisions for our area.
This year the Council has scrapped free parking on Saturdays over the Christmas period at the same time as funding the Borough’s shoppers to take the bus out of Wokingham Borough. This won’t help struggling small businesses if people in the Borough can take a bus ride for free to Reading or Bracknell and shop there instead of in our Borough.
If we don’t support shops in our towns then jobs and livelihoods will be lost.
Families especially can feel extra pressure at Christmas. Costs can add up quickly. With extra lights on, heating bills, adverts and shop displays encouraging us to buy more.
It’s only natural people want to give their family a ‘perfect Christmas’. Last January a study found that one in five people could still be paying off Christmas debt at Easter.
It’s not always easy but people in debt should, seek help before the situation spirals. There’s lots of advice and help for people who are worried about debt. The Charity Step Change offer free money and debt advice plus support for those struggling with mental health linked to money worries.
It’s important to remember Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone, whether that’s because of money worries, loneliness, ill health, bereavement. We should look out for our friends and neighbours. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference. And if you can, please donate items to The Cowshed and First Days – check their websites to see what they need.