In his first column of the New Year, councillor Paul Bettison OBE, the leader of Bracknell Forest Council, encourages those who are struggling with the cost of living crisis to apply for further support the council is able to offer. Cllr Bettison writes:

Happy New Year! Hopefully you have been able to relax over the past week after a very busy lead up to Christmas for many. I wish to extend my thanks to all the council workers who have been working tirelessly throughout this period, to keep our borough going!

This time of year is often when people look towards making changes or resolutions, looking for a positive start to the year. However, there are many, both locally and across the country, that are still in financial hardship due to the increased cost of living. In Bracknell Forest, we are continuing to support those who are most vulnerable. To extend the support we can offer to our residents, the Local Welfare Scheme has been enhanced to help those who are unable to meet the costs of everyday essentials, to apply for further support. This includes helping with energy or food costs and is particularly for those who do not automatically qualify for other cost of living support schemes.

Eligible residents can apply through the main Local Welfare Scheme application route, or through the winter family cost of living voucher scheme. I urge anyone who is struggling financially, to please apply for support. All details are on the council’s website at:

I also want to remind everyone that our community winter hubs are open for everyone to visit. If you are worried about the cost of heating your home and need a warm space to spend a few hours, or simply want to connect with others in your local area, please don’t hesitate to pop in. All details of locations and opening times are on the council’s website.

I hope you all have a good rest of the week and I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2023!