Yes, winter is here which means that we now have to survive through the colder months. This cold, damp weather also brings extra costs for heating. There is a huge amount of scientific research that shows the negative impact on people living in cold, damp homes. If you happen to be on a main Work and Income benefit, including superannuation, from May 1 until October 1, you will receive a ‘winter payment’. You do not have to apply for this payment; it should automatically be included in your benefit. This is to help with extra heating costs, such as electric heating or refilling a gas bottle.
If you have a fireplace and are receiving temporary additional support from Work and Income, you can also apply for help to purchase firewood. If you are not receiving temporary additional support, then you could apply for an advance payment – this is basically a no interest loan, which you need to repay. To apply for this grant, you will need to first provide a quote from a firewood supplier. Work and Income have a list of local firewood suppliers.
As of July 1, the law changed so that rental properties must be properly insulated both in the ceiling and under the floor. They must also have an adequate source of heating. If you are renting, it is worth checking under your floors and in the ceiling to see if insulation is present. If you can’t see insulation in place, contact your landlord or property manager to discuss the matter. If this does not work, contact the Tenancy Tribunal (0800 836 262) and they will be able to guide you on the next steps. The new law means it is compulsory for landlords to ensure there is proper insulation in all rental properties. Landlords can be fined up to $4000 if they fail to do this.
If you would like to know more, Homebuilders Family Services is offering a free course, Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities, at the Wellsford Library on Wednesday, August 28, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. This is a free course. If you are interested, please contact Homebuilders Family Services on 425 7048 to register.
Another source of extra warmth is piling blankets on and under yourself and your children.
The Warkworth Women’s Centre is currently giving away free blankets and duvets, along with pyjamas. Contact the Women’s Centre on 425 7261. Op shops often also have cheap duvets and blankets for sale, as well as slippers.
At Homebuilders Family Services, we have a lovely selection of beautiful hand-knitted blankets that have been kindly donated by the Summerset Village Knitting group and the Snells Beach Knitters Club. Please pop in and grab one if you or your child is feeling the cold. These handmade blankets are great on a bed or as a snugly warming comforter.
Maria Collins, Homebuilders, Help Desk Advocate