On 30th September 2021 the government announced £500million of funding to support vulnerable households with essentials over the coming months as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic. The winter support is for families and vulnerable households with food, fuel, bills, household items and essentials between October 2021 and March 2022. The funding is being issued to Local Authorities with local discretion for how it is used and reaches households, as well as who is eligible for additional help.
The Household Support Fund follows the government’s COVID Winter Grant Scheme and COVID Local Support Grant, which have been providing additional help and support for local income and vulnerable households since November 2020. Similar to those schemes, Local Authorities are expected to provide the following help, either directly or through third parties, like local charities, community groups and organisations:
- Household bills including electric, gas, water and phone bills
- Fuel meter top-ups or oil supplies (for rural properties, for instance)
- Some housing costs, which can’t be supported through other means
- Clothes and shoes
- Household items including electrical items, white goods, boilers, which are essential for heating and cooking
Local Authorities in the West Midlands have received £53.2million through the Household Support Fund ranging from £12.8million allocated to Birmingham to £1.3million being allocated to Herefordshire. Whilst there will be some differences in how the funding is used across different areas, there is likely to be a lot of commonality and consistency. In Solihull, for example, it will be providing the following from the £1.4million allocation:
- Providing supermarket gift cards during holiday periods for children and young people who receive free school meals and early years pupil premium:
- Working with local charities to delivery winter warmth and winter fuel schemes, as well as to provide help with children’s clothing and shoes;
- Working with the local foodbank network to increase food supplies and add essential cooking items;
- Increasing the help available to households through the Discretionary Crisis Fund (DCF);
- Providing help directly to young people who have left care with food, household bills, clothing and essentials.
The scale of funding and limited time period it can be used presents some challenges and like other Local Authorities. This is in addition to planning for the Christmas Holiday Activity & Food Programme.
If you’d like to find out more, you can visit Government launches £500m support for vulnerable households over winter – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and get in contact with your local Council. You can also contact Austin Rodriguez, Head of Housing and Communities at Solihull Council via email@example.com who is a member of WMFN and a Trustee to find out more.