Food and fuel voucher scheme to end in Peterborough after charity staff face 'abuse'

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Staff and volunteers at Citizens’ Advice Peterborough say they faced ‘highly abusive behaviour’ from the public while involved with the scheme

Household support vouchers will no longer be available to residents in Peterborough after staff distributing them faced “highly abusive behaviour”.

The Citizens’ Advice Peterborough (CAP) charity has declined to continue running the scheme, saying its staff and volunteers faced abuse from members of the public trying to gain extra vouchers or who were unhappy they didn’t qualify for them.

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The vouchers, which were funded by the government’s Household Support Fund (HSF), are designed to help people on low incomes with the cost of food and fuel.

The vouchers helped people on low incomes with the cost of food and fuelThe vouchers helped people on low incomes with the cost of food and fuel
The vouchers helped people on low incomes with the cost of food and fuel

Peterborough City Council (PCC), which oversaw the scheme, says demand “significantly outstripped” CAP’s capacity to provide the vouchers, meaning it wasn’t always able to promptly respond to enquiries, leading to complaints and residents unable to access support.

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It says that as it only received notice that the HSF would continue in the recent Spring Budget and is still awaiting confirmation of its allocation, it hasn’t been able to find another provider and will instead look at “alternative models” for passing on the funds in future.

This could include using them to reduce council tax bills for qualifying households from September, it says.

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The discontinued voucher scheme was "highly successful" while it ran, though, PCC continues, delivering more than 9,000 vouchers for food and fuel.

The HSF’s origins came during the pandemic as a way to alleviate pressure on struggling households and it has since been extended several times, most recently for an extra six months from 31st March.

Locally, it’s available to Peterborough residents who receive or are applying for any means tested benefit such as universal credit, income support or child tax benefits as well as personal independence payments or disability living allowance.

It’s also available to people on low incomes: single people earning less than £25,500 per year, couples earning less than £43,400 together – including those in houses of multiple occupancy – or anyone deemed to be experiencing hardship by the council or one of its partners.

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While household support vouchers will no longer be available, school holidays vouchers will continue to be given to families with children who would ordinarily receive free school meals.

These are administered by PCC which proposes to distribute £10 worth of vouchers per pupil over May half term and £50 vouchers over the summer holidays. This remains subject to its HSF allocation.

PCC has also confirmed that HSF money will again be granted to community hubs where people can receive support and advice.

The amount they receive will also depend on the funding allocation.

They are:

  • AGE UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Barnardos
  • Black History Month Committee Peterborough
  • Christ the Servant King (CSK) & Chimes Coffee Shop (CiC)
  • Compas Charity
  • Dial Peterborough (commonly known as 'Disabiltiy Peterborough')
  • Faizan E Madina Mosque
  • Family Action
  • Family Voice Peterborough
  • iCare Peterborough
  • KingsGate Community Church
  • Light Project Peterborough
  • Little Miracles
  • Marys Child
  • Millfield Community Fridge
  • Paston Farm Community Foundation
  • St John's Church
  • St Mark's Community Hub and Safe Space
  • Wellspring Community Church
  • Westraven Community Café and Garden
  • Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community Association (PARCA)
  • Park Road Baptist Church
  • CareZone
  • African Caribbean Group

This article has been corrected. Citizens’ Advice Peterborough was running the household support voucher scheme, not the school voucher scheme, which is run by Peterborough City Council.

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