Over 170 councils call for urgent extension of Household Support Fund

More than 170 council leaders have called on the Chancellor to extend the Household Support Fund for at least a year.

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Ahead of the Spring Budget, more than 170 council leaders have called on the Chancellor to extend an essential scheme to help protect vulnerable households across the country before it expires at the end of this month.

Coordinated by the Local Government Association (LGA), the cross-party open letter calls on the Government to urgently extend the Household Support Fund – which provided £820 million in government funding for local welfare support over the past year – for at least another year. 

With only weeks to go until the scheme is set to end on 31 March, the Government is yet to confirm whether councils will receive funding beyond this date.

The joint letter, also signed by LGA Chair Cllr Shaun Davies and all the LGA’s political group leaders, says this funding has provided a vital safety net for residents who are struggling to afford heating, food and other essentials.  

As local services are continuing to see rising hardship and demand for support, the letter states that now is not the time to withdraw support as this would create a ‘cliff-edge’ in provision for communities.

Councils are warning that ending the Household Support Fund would risk more households falling into financial crisis, destitution and homelessness, increasing pressure on already overstretched public services such as the NHS, social care and temporary accommodation. 

Councils and their voluntary and community partners want to shift the focus from crisis support to prevention, the letter says, but also says in the short term the need for local welfare support is not reducing.

Urgent confirmation of the extension of the Household Support Fund for another year would allow councils and their partners to maintain services that help residents to stay healthy, support them to engage in work and education, prevent escalating crises and reduce pressure on wider public services. 

Cllr Pete Marland, Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said:

“The Household Support Fund has provided a vital lifeline for our most vulnerable residents during the rising cost of living, as our cross-party letter highlights.

“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.

“Ultimately, councils want to shift from providing crisis support to investing in preventative services which improve people’s financial resilience and life chances, alongside a sufficiently-resourced national safety net.

“However, without an urgent extension of this funding for at least a year, there is a risk of more households falling into financial crisis, homelessness and poverty. 

“We are hopeful that government will work with councils on this issue.” 

Notes to Editors

LGA Open letter to the Chancellor: Council leaders call for the Household Support Fund to be extended