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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Sian Baldwin

What is the Household Support Fund and when could it end?

A fund that helps people struggling with the cost of living could be stopped, causing "catastrophe" for hordes of families.

The Barnardo’s charity say many will not be able to afford to live if the Household Support Fund is dropped, as planned.

More than 160 councils have also warned that thousands of vulnerable families are facing a cliff edge of support without it.The Government has justified the stoppage of the fund, saying other benefits are rising to help cover costs.

The £500m Household Support Fund was started in 2021 to help millions of families get through a feared winter squeeze on their budgets.

The money was distributed to households hard hit by rising energy bills, the end of furlough after Covid, and rising costs as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

Speaking at the launch, the chancellor said: “Everyone should be able to afford the essentials, and we are committed to ensuring that is the case.

“Our new Household Support Fund will provide a lifeline for those at risk of struggling to keep up with their bills over the winter, adding to the support the Government is already providing to help people with the cost of living.”

Ruth Welford, assistant director for Barnardo’s, told the BBC: “We know this is a scheme that has helped local authorities reach lots of families that have no way of feeding and clothing their children, and that cost-of-living crisis is not over for those families.

"It's critical that it continues, otherwise thousands of children will be plunged even deeper into poverty. It will be catastrophic."

But what is happening with the scheme now?

Who was entitled to the Household Support Fund?

The expectation was that the fund should be used to support households in the most need, particularly those that may not be eligible for other Government support Government, but who are nevertheless in need and require crisis support. 

Brits could apply to their local councils for support and it was assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Support was offered to families, pensioners, the disabled, and anyone else who could show they were struggling to make ends meet.

This list was not exhaustive and anyone could apply for help.

When is the Household Support Fund due to end?

Imminently, although there has been campaigning from various support groups for it to be extended.

Last month, more than 120 organisations wrote to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to urge him to extend it for at least another year.

A cross-party group of 160 councils in England has said the fund is a "vital lifeline" and have called for it to be extended.

The fund is set to end at the end of this month as the Government looks to save money – but it has said it will be supporting struggling families in other ways.

A Government spokesperson said: "The current fund is available up until March 2024 as part of wider cost-of-living support worth on average £3,700 per household, including raising benefits by 6.7 per cent from April and increasing the Local Housing Allowance."

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