The cost of living is obviously the biggest issue for North Cornwall, and it will be where my primary focus will be in the coming months. Those being paid a qualifying disability benefit will be automatically paid £150 in additional support from 20 September, with the vast majority of those eligible expected to receive their one-off payment by the beginning of October. The payment will help disabled people with the rising Cost of Living, acknowledging the higher disability-related costs they often face, such as care and mobility needs. For those disabled people on low-incomes, this payment comes on top of other Cost of Living payments for all households to help with energy bills, including extra £150 for properties in Council Tax bands A-D in England.
Over eight million eligible households in receipt of a means-tested benefit received the first of two automatic Cost of Living payments of £326 from 14 July. The second means-tested payment of £324 will be issued later this year. The Cost of Living payments from the government are part of a £37 billion package of support, which will see millions of households receive at least £1,200 this year to help cover rising costs. The government has also expanded support for the Household Support Fund in England – which helps people with food and energy bills – with an extra £421 million – for October 2022 to March 2023, and topped up funding by £79 million for devolved nations; the total value of this support now stands at £1.5 billion. This is all in addition to changes to the Universal Credit taper rate and work allowances worth £1,000 a year on average for 1.7 million working claimants, a rise in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour, and a tax cut for around 30 million workers through a rise in National Insurance contribution thresholds.
Thousands of homes in North Cornwall are set to benefit from better internet from as early as this month as high-speed broadband provider Wildanet rolls out a major expansion of its gigabit-enabled network to Launceston, Wadebridge and Bude. More than 4,700 homes and businesses will see their connectivity transformed, with the new service to be available to 2,251 homes in Launceston, 2,060 in Wadebridge and 405 homes in Bude, once the installation of new fibre cables currently under way is completed later this year. Constituents in some areas of North Cornwall will be able to access the new service from September. Wildanet, the Cornwall-based Altnet (Alternative Network provider), is investing £50 million rolling out fibre broadband to communities across Cornwall. It comes as further areas of Cornwall can look forward to improved coverage after the Government committed £5 billion to its Project Gigabit scheme which uses public procurement alongside the gigabit voucher scheme to roll out broadband to hard-to-reach areas across the UK. This includes broadband companies being invited to bid for £36 million worth of contracts to bring fast connections to 19,000 homes and businesses in rural parts of Cornwall.