A CITIZENS Advice chief executive based in Addlestone has pressed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on what support he will offer the most vulnerable to help them through the cost of living crisis.

Becky Whale met Mr Sunak at a gathering in Chertsey hosted by Ben Spencer, the Conservative MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, to recognise the work done by the voluntary sector.

“The Prime Minister met voluntary sector representatives to thank us for the work we do for the local community,” said Becky, representing Runnymede and Spelthorne Citizens Advice.

“I was one of the lucky ones who got a one-to-one conversation with him, and I talked about the impact of the cost of living crisis on residents, especially the poorest but also many working people who have never needed to reach out for support before.

“I asked him what support he would be bringing in from April, and he talked about further support, targeted at those most in need.

“Mr Sunak praised the work that Citizens Advice does and the important role we played both during the pandemic and now in the cost of living crisis. It was very good to have the opportunity to talk about how hard costs are hitting people on the ground, and that more needed to be done by the government to ensure the most vulnerable have enough coming in to meet their essential costs.

PMQs – Becky Whale, chief officer of Runnymede and Spelthorne Citizens Advice, with Rishi Sunak. (Picture supplied)

“We talked about the role of the Household Support Fund in one of our areas, Runnymede, and how that had been going.”

The Household Support Fund is a national scheme and part of a wider package helping to support those vulnerable households most in need of help.

In Surrey, it goes to the county council, who then use it for some overriding priorities, such as funding meals in the holidays for those on free school meals. Money is allocated by the county for organisations aware of families in financial crisis to distribute, and to borough and district councils.

Nationally, in 2022 Citizens Advice saw demand for local welfare support, such as the Household Support Fund, triple compared with the previous year.

“The cost of living crisis has put unprecedented pressure on people’s finances and pushed many to breaking point,” it says.

“Over the last 12 months Citizens Advice has seen hundreds of thousands of people coming to us for crisis support, many for the very first time.”