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Cost of living: new £500m Household Support Fund offers silver lining

Cost of living: new £500m Household Support Fund offers silver lining
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As the Furlough scheme ends, the government has announced a new £500 million Household Support Fund. This is good news for those who felt that the furlough scheme should be extended, especially with the rising energy bills and the end of the £20 weekly top-up to Universal Credit.

The fund aims to support families struggling with the cost of living as coronavirus support schemes come to an end.

What is the Household Support Fund?

Vulnerable households still need support from the government as we push through the final stages of recovery from the pandemic. The government announced a new £500 million support fund to help these households with the cost of food, utility bills and other daily needs. The fund is expected to run over the winter, with no specific end date announced yet.

In England, the fund will be distributed by local councils since they know their local areas best. The money is expected to be made available to local authorities later in October.

The Barnett formula will be used by the Scottish government, the Welsh government and the Northern Ireland executive. The devolved administrations will receive up to £79 million of the £500 million (£41 million for the Scottish government, £25 million for the Welsh government and £14 million for the NI Executive).

What are vulnerable households?

According to the decent homes in the private sector appendix, “vulnerable households are defined as those in receipt of means-tested or disability-related benefits. For example, income support/housing benefit, council tax benefit, disabled persons tax credit, income-based jobseekers allowance, working families tax credit, attendance allowance, disability living allowance, industrial injuries, disablement benefit and war disablement pension.”

Am I eligible for the Household Support Fund?

If your household is considered vulnerable, then you might be eligible for the Household Support Fund. However, you may need to contact your local council for more information, including how to access the fund.

Note that families with children could receive additional help. This is because the government has doubled free childcare for eligible working parents. As a result, you could receive up to £5,000 per child every year!

The government has also increased the value of Healthy Start vouchers to help vulnerable pregnant women or disadvantaged women with children under four purchase fresh fruit and vegetables.

How much will eligible households get?

The government has not released much information yet. However, it’s clear that you’ll need to contact your local council to get more details.

The gov.uk website explains, “the new Household Support Fund will support millions of households in England and will be distributed by councils in England, who know their local areas best and can directly help those who need it most, including for example, through small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing and utilities.”

It’s also the responsibility of the devolved administrations to determine how to allocate the Household Support Fund in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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