Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you are aware, Bishop Christopher has established the Cost-of-Living Task Group, chaired by Bishop Rosemarie. This bulletin provides you with a digest of guidance and resources from JPIC, Government and National Church initiatives.
Resources to Support you
Research conducted on behalf of the Church of England by Savanta revealed 2.6 million seek help from churches and faith groups.
Practical tips and financial support from the CofE
Find out more about the £1,400 Energy Grant, how to reduce your energy bills and advice for meeting clergy household bills:
Events and meetings
Nelly Misenga, Together Southwark Development Worker, and Nicola Thomas, Head of JPIC, attend a wide variety of events both to learn about what is available and to communicate this, as well as providing ad hoc support. There is a considerable amount of information available online, and this is changing all the time, so please do get in touch if you are looking for specific information such as funding opportunities in your borough.
Resources to support your parish
Following the Autumn Statement presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Parliament on Thursday 17 November 2022, here’s a round-up of points made in the statement that you may wish to consider at your Parish.
- The minimum wage for people over the age of 23 is going up to £10.42 per hour from April 2023. However, the Living wage has been calculated as £11.95 per hour in London and £10.90 in the rest of the country. Make sure you are paying your staff the legal minimum and, if your parish can afford it, consider paying the Living wage as an act of social justice. There is a cost of Living Wage Toolkit on the diocesan website, you can read this here.
- With extra money made available to local authorities for the Household Support Fund and to help those most in need, you could consider applying to your local authority for funds to help with projects running at your church. Local authorities are required to collaborate with third party organisations, this includes:
- Registered charities and voluntary organisations
- Food banks
- Help continues to be available with business rates, which may apply to churches with shops or cafes that are classed as rateable.
Individuals in your Parish might also find the following information helpful:
- State pensions, means-tested and some disability benefits to rise with inflation.
- The housing benefit is frozen at 2020 levels and this is likely to affect low-income tenants in private rented accommodation if rents increase.
- Support for energy bills is to continue after April but at a lower level. With some groups receiving additional cash payments, including those on means-tested benefits, pensioners and those on certain disability benefits.
- Councils will be able to increase council tax by up to 5% (increased from 3%) without a local vote. This is intended to help with the cost of social care.
- Can you help others apply for any discounts or reductions that apply to them?
The Together Southwark website continues to have a wealth of resources, including the ‘Signposting People in your Parish’ resource pack which has a new section at the beginning directing people to a wide range of national and local resources and funds about cost of living support. This document is kept under constant review and Nelly Misenga, Together Southwark Development Officer, is currently working on a physical pack which will be distributed to churches. Look out for these in the coming weeks.
Winter Night Shelter provision
To support those who are sleeping rough during these cold winter months and to provide safe and warm overnight accommodation for the homeless, the following links listed are a range of charity organisations and projects available to help those in need.
We know there has been some confusion over the status of Winter Night Shelters following rule changes during Covid. The latest Government guidance can be found here and states that communal shelters can run where there is a need but sets out a range of good practice measures, which include liaison with the local Director of Public Health. Nelly has produced the attached summary of the guidance for easy reference.
If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen sleeping rough, you can use Streetlink to send an alert to the local authority or outreach service for the area in which you have seen the person. If you see someone sleeping rough in London you can report this on the Streetlink London website and support workers will try to find them.
Love in action
The New Year begins with so many people still facing last year’s problems. And so, we must continue to be resolute in putting love into action:
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. [Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” – Romans 12: 9 -13
As said by St Basil of Caesarea: “he who plants kindness, gathers love”
Be assured of our prayers and feel free to let us know what activities you are doing. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to ask.
Cost of Living Task Group
The Rt Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon (Chair), Janet Boyce Parish Finance Officer, The Revd Canon Jay Colwill, Canon Missioner, Nicola Thomas, Head of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC), The Venerable John Kiddle, Archdeacon of Wandsworth, Sophia Jones, Director of Communications