Ellie Ames 05 February 2024

Household Support Fund doubt leaving councils ‘in limbo’

Household Support Fund doubt leaving councils ‘in limbo’ image
Image: Daisy Daisy / Shutterstock.com

Councils have urged the Government to commit to extending the Household Support Fund (HSF) at a time of ‘record demand’.

The HSF, which has provided £820m for local welfare support over the past year, is due to end on 31 March.

The Department for Work and Pensions has not confirmed what will happen to the fund beyond this date but said it continues ‘to keep all existing programmes and cost-of-living measures under review’.

A last-minute decision to extend the HSF could come too late for authorities that may have already lost experienced staff, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned, after 22% of councils said they would have to make redundancies if the fund were to end.

In a new LGA survey, 84% of councils said financial hardship had increased in their area over the past year, with most expecting the situation to worsen.

The survey also found that 62% of councils will not be able to provide additional discretionary funding in place of the HSF, resulting in a ‘cliff edge’ in support for vulnerable people.

The chair of the LGA’s Economy and Resources Board, Pete Marland, said: ‘Now is not the time to scale back support.

‘Many at-risk households continue to face considerable challenges in meeting essential living costs, with demand for support greater than when the fund was first introduced.’

He added: ‘without an urgent extension of HSF for at least a year, there is a risk of more households falling into financial crisis, homelessness and poverty’.

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