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Coronavirus: Extra Help - Household Support Fund



Household Support Fund

Household Support Fund

The UK government has allocated an extra £500 million to help those most in need over the winter of 2021/2022. Announcement here. Guidance for local authorities here.


England

£421 million of the money is for Councils in England. The scheme is known as the Household Support Fund.
Guidance for Local Authorities states that Councils have the flexibility to decide how to run the scheme and can use their discretion to decide who is eligible for support.

The expectation is that it should primarily be used to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills. It can also be used to support households with essential costs related to those items and with wider essential costs. In exceptional cases of genuine emergency it can additionally be used to support housing costs where existing housing support schemes do not meet this exceptional need. 

But note that the Fund cannot be used to provide mortgage support.

At least 50% of the total funding is ring-fenced to support households with children and the rest is for households without children and individuals. 

This may include households not currently in receipt of DWP welfare benefits.

The fund could be used for individuals with no recourse to public funds if there is 'a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution'.

The Household Support Fund is available from 06 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.


What can the fund help with?

The money can be used to help with:

  • Food, household energy bills and water.
  • Also, items such as sanitary products, warm clothing, soap and blankets.
  • And it could help with boiler service/repair, purchase of equipment including fridges, freezers, ovens etc.
  • Help could also be given towards, eg. cost of broadband or phone bills, clothing, and essential transport-related costs such as repairing a car, buying a bicycle or paying for fuel.
  • In exceptional cases of genuine emergency where existing housing support schemes do not meet this exceptional need, the Fund can be used to support housing costs (rent – not mortgage payments). This would only apply where support is not available through the housing cost element of Universal Credit (UC), Housing Benefit, Discretionary Housing Payments or the Homelessness Prevention Grant.

The guidance also says,
The Fund can exceptionally and in genuine emergency be used to provide support for historic rent arrears built up prior to an existing benefit claim for households already in receipt of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. This is because these arrears are excluded from the criteria for Discretionary Housing Payments.  However, support with rent arrears is not the primary intent of the fund and should not be the focus of spend.


Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland

The devolved administrations have been allocated:

£41 million for the Scottish Government 

£25 million for the Welsh Government and 

£14 million for the NI Executive

It will be for the devolved administrations to decide how to allocate this additional funding.

 

The Previous Scheme - Covid Local Support Grant

(The original name for this scheme was the Covid Winter Grant Payment).

From early December 2020 until 30th September 2021 (extended from 20th June 2021) English Councils were able to provide additional help to vulnerable households within their area.

£370 million in total was given to County Councils and Unitary Authorities in England who administered the scheme. The money was ring-fenced - so it couldn't be used for anything else, and anything not paid out by the end of the scheme had to be paid back.

The government issued guidance on what can be paid, how, to whom and how to identify potential recipients.

What

The funds could be used for food, heating, lighting, cooking, water and other essential items such as warm clothing and bedding, soap, boiler repair, purchase of fridges and ovens, and sanitary products. 80% of the money was ring fenced for food, energy and water bills.

How

Households can be given help either through direct cash payments into bank accounts, vouchers or being given food parcels. Councils are encouraged to work with other organisations to help deliver the scheme, and Job Centre staff are encouraged to support Councils and raise awareness with local partners.

Who

80% of the scheme’s money was intended for households with children – being defined as under 19 or older if their parent is getting Child Benefit or free school meals for them. It also includes children living alone. They do not have to be getting benefits to be eligible.

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