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£500 million support fund - are there any details?

Andrew Dutton
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Has anybody seen anything that’s of any use on this subject?

Nobody seems to know what the gov’t means by ‘local authorities’ - Counties or District/Borough level?

Nobody seems to have been told anything. Not even DWP staff.


Any help appreciated!

Va1der
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http://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-500m-support-for-vulnerable-households-over-winter

For Scotland’s part it sounds like an additional pot of money for the Scottish welfare fund. Guessing it will be administered in a similar manner in E/W (and maybe finally a route to E/W getting a similar arrangement long term?)

Appears there is also an opportunity for organisations to apply to the LAs for funding, with decisions based on who the LA thinks is best suited to “support members of their communities”.  Not sure if that makes it flexible or just vague.

Andrew Dutton
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Thanks for this.

I’d say vague.

‘Councils’ is all it says, not which councils - and the councils themselves appear not to have been told.

Our Discretionary Fund is already getting queries that they can’t answer. The vague outline given would fit their remit, but they have been told nothing.

All pretty disgraceful and a sign of measures taken in panic.

Mike Hughes
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Yup. No detail at all. No-one knows a thing. Timing was really just a sop to certain MPs to reduce opposition to the removal of the uplift etc. Now that’s through there’s no detail and less pressure to provide any.

Vonny
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Va1der - 06 October 2021 10:09 AM

http://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-500m-support-for-vulnerable-households-over-winter

For Scotland’s part it sounds like an additional pot of money for the Scottish welfare fund. Guessing it will be administered in a similar manner in E/W (and maybe finally a route to E/W getting a similar arrangement long term?)

Appears there is also an opportunity for organisations to apply to the LAs for funding, with decisions based on who the LA thinks is best suited to “support members of their communities”.  Not sure if that makes it flexible or just vague.

We have our long term equivalent in Wales called the discretionary assistance fund, had it since the end of the old social fund

Keith S Adviser
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I have already asked two councils about this and guess what, they knew nothing about it, they don’t have any guidance, plans, information or dare i say it an application process. The draft guidance released today is as clear as fog on a foggy day, except with the last clause ‘cannot be used to pay for advice services’. As previously mentioned, yet more political hot air to distract attention away from the £20 robbery of the UC uplift.

MARKG
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The draft guidance seemed ok to me, it sets out the expectation for use of the fund. OK, it is ‘up to the local authority’ whether they have a ‘claim’ process or not, but the rest of it was pretty clear to me.

Andrew Dutton
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Problem being that the fund was announced a long time before anyone was told how it worked or who was supposed to run it!

Vonny
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Info from the discretionary assistance fund in Wales:

Clarification: UC uplift removal
The DAF Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP) can support any person living in Wales, on a benefit income, who is in extreme financial hardship and in immediate need of help with core essential costs like food, gas, electricity and basic clothing.

The Fund has now updated the online EAP application to include a question about whether the client has been impacted by the UC uplift removal causing immediate emergency need.  Please state whether the emergency need has been impacted by the removal of the UC uplift, if this is applicable to your client.

Individuals who are experiencing extreme financial hardship, and are in crisis as a result of the UC uplift removal, will be considered under flexibility, up to a maximum of 5 awards (until March 2022.)

Keith S Adviser
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So after a few reminders, i have now received this response:

Good afternoon

I have been made aware of a query you have raised about the household support fund.

At this moment in time, Fylde Council has received no allocation for this funding.  The award has been made to the upper tier authority (Lancashire county council) who are allocating a large part of the funding for meals provision during school holidays.

I believe there will be a decision in early November about if any funding will be released to district councils.

Whoever decided that the fund should be ringfenced for the provision of meals during school holidays ?

BC Welfare Rights
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Kirklees and Calderdale have also used some of the money to provide cash or vouchers to kids entitled to free school meals during the October half term. Both are paying £15 towards meals. Kirklees is also giving £10 towards fuel costs.

It seems like a reasonable way to spend it to me.

Mike Hughes
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It does seem a reasonable way to spend the money right up until you ponder why such a thing is needed in the first place.

Keith S Adviser
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I would agree to a certain extent, as the provision of meals to children in need is a justifiable reason. However, didn’t the £221m Holiday Activities and Food programme, which offered nutritious meals and enriching activities to disadvantaged children across the Easter and Summer holidays also do that ? As mentioned above, ‘Until you ponder the reason why’ ? Now we have a 500m fund being used in the same way.

I would have hoped that this fund would have seen a more far reaching audience of families and individuals that are experiencing genuine hardship, on many different fronts.  As stated by Uncle Rishi, “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”.

It now appears that distributing the fund to local councils, will take second place, so whatever is left, will i suspect, be difficult to access.

BC Welfare Rights
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Well yes, a £500m sticking plaster for an approx £6bn cut to UC, the maths speaks for itself.

Some perspective though, there are about 5,000 kids in Calderdale who receive free school meals. So this will cost £75,000 out of its HSF allocation of £1.83m. Presuming they also do it at Christmas that will be about another £150,000, which leaves about £1.6m to be spent elsewhere. It’s not like they are chucking the whole grant at one particular group.
Edit
Sorry, I have just realised that the figures I quoted are only for primary school pupils, there are another 3,000 or so secondary school pupils also eligible for FSM. So my figures are wrong but the principle is basically the same. Obviously it may be a different picture in other LA areas.

[ Edited: 28 Oct 2021 at 11:42 am by BC Welfare Rights ]
Melin Homes
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Hi All, does anyone at all have any info on the distribution for Wales? I cannot find anything at all for the £25 million allocated?

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Melin Homes - 01 November 2021 10:55 AM

Hi All, does anyone at all have any info on the distribution for Wales? I cannot find anything at all for the £25 million allocated?

Doesn’t Vonny’s post here hve the details?

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/17707/#84190

Melin Homes
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Hi
Not really it doesnt. Im looking for the policy provision where Wales’s allocations are made, ie
Where are the money been allocated?
Who was it allocated too?
What is the spending provision?
How to access the monies?
Who is responsible?

I cannot see to find any documentation anywhere regarding this?

Keith S Adviser
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Following my previous post, I thought raising a question with the distributing authority would shine some light on the issue and I have received a helpful response, as below:

We have already made one decision regarding the use of the fund, this was taken as an
urgent decision, to facilitate the distribution of vouchers to free school meals eligible children
within the county for the current October half term. We have worked with schools to facilitate
the distribution of the vouchers which provide vouchers to the value of £15 for each eligible
child, totalling circa £590k. This approach is in line with many other councils.
We are also working on further options for the use of the fund, some of which will be
considered by the county council’s Cabinet on 4 November 2021. These will include
confirming provision of vouchers for free school meals eligible children for the Christmas
and February half term holidays. It is also proposed that £3m of the fund will be distributed
to Lancashire district councils to be used via their district support hubs on support that is
consistent with the fund conditions. We are broadly applying the Department for Work and
Pensions model in deciding on individual allocations to districts, as these reflect relative
need and also population size. We expect that the district hubs will have a process for
individual applications for funding support.
I should add that further measures are being worked on and will be subject to individual
decisions when the details have been finalised. I hope that this information has been of
assistance to you.

Gareth Morgan
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Today’s letter from the minister

The announcement by UK Government of the £500m Household Support Fund acknowledges that too many people will be unable to make ends meet this winter. We recognise that the £25m allocated to Wales from the fund is a derisory amount, and will in no way make up for the money that has been lost by hundreds of thousands of families across Wales. However, the Minister for Social Justice will announce how the Welsh Government intends to use this funding in the most efficient way possible in the coming weeks.  The funding will provide a boost to our existing package of support for those who have been most impacted by this brutal cut to their household income

Vonny
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Melin Homes - 01 November 2021 01:08 PM

Hi
Not really it doesnt. Im looking for the policy provision where Wales’s allocations are made, ie
Where are the money been allocated?
Who was it allocated too?
What is the spending provision?
How to access the monies?
Who is responsible?

I cannot see to find any documentation anywhere regarding this?

The info I provided came from an email to daf partner organisations, the insufficient money (as quoted by gareth) has been allocated to daf and can be accessed in the usual way to claim an emergency assistance payment but add in the application that the crisis is due to the end of the UC ‘uplift’

I appreciate finding info about daf can be hard, is your organisation a daf partner?

UB40
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Here is an extract from North Devon’s HSF.

        “We know that sudden unexpected costs can create real challenges for residents who are experiencing financial hardship. The Devon Household Support Fund is available to provide rapid short-term financial support to meet immediate needs and help those who are struggling to afford food, energy and water bills, and other related essentials this winter.

Through the Household Support Fund, assistance is available for the following needs:

Food - This can be in the form of food parcels or supermarket vouchers
Energy and Water - Assistance towards energy bills for any form of fuel that is used for the purpose of domestic heating, cooking or lighting (including those on gas and/or electric meters) or water bills used for drinking, washing, cooking, sanitary purposes and sewerage
Essentials linked to Energy and Water - This can include sanitary products, warm clothing, blankets, boiler servicing or repair, repairing or replacing essential appliances and/or white goods including Fridges, Freezers, Ovens, Washing Machines etc.
Wider Essentials - This can include help towards support with other bills that cannot be deferred (such as phone/broadband bills, transport-related costs (such as vehicle repair, paying for fuel or even purchasing a bicycle) or clothing (such as formal wear for job interviews etc.) “

Gareth Morgan
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Welsh government tweet this morning- ‘We’re providing £51m to help families with the growing cost of living.

This includes support for foodbanks and a one-off £100 cash payment to help eligible families with energy bills.

Find out about our Household Support Fund live at 12pm with Finance Minister ‘

Gareth Morgan
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A new £51m package of support will help families facing the cost-of-living crisis to pay their bills this winter, Welsh Ministers announced today.

The Welsh Government is releasing extra funding from its reserves to target support towards lower income households, providing immediate support for people facing rising living costs this winter.

The first phase of the Household Support Fund will target heating and eating – providing families with extra help to pay their energy bills over the winter and giving extra funding to foodbanks and community food schemes.

It comes as the UK Government has refused to reverse the cut of its £20 Universal Credit lifeline for tens of thousands of families and the Bank of England is warning inflation will rise to 5% by the spring, pushing prices even higher.

Rebecca Evans, Minster for Finance and Local Government said:

“Families across Wales are facing a real cost-of-living crisis thanks to rising prices and cuts to key benefit payments.

“To help tackle these unprecedented challenges, we are making £51m available to develop our own bespoke Household Support Fund to help with some of the costs families are facing.

“Where Westminster has failed to support families, the Welsh Government will step in and back our communities through this challenging period.”
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, has outlined the first measures, which will be funded.

More than £38m will be made available through a Winter Fuel Support Scheme for households in receipt of working age means-tested benefits.

Eligible households will be able to claim a one-off £100 cash payment. It will be available to all eligible energy customers regardless of whether they pay for their fuel on a pre-payment or a credit meter.

More than £1.1m has also been provided to support and bolster foodbanks, community food partnerships and community hubs. This will help them address food poverty, food insecurity and provide a wider range of services to help people and families maximise their income. It includes the extension of the successful Big Bocs Bwyd project to a further 25 schools.

Ms Hutt said:

“We are very worried the cost-of-living crisis, coming so close to Christmas, will force families to turn to high-cost lenders or illegal loan sharks to help make ends meet

“This fund will help raise awareness of the alternatives out there which can help.

“Most of the powers to address this cost-of-living crisis lie in the UK Government’s hands but we want to do everything we can to help families through this winter.

“We will support you, your families, your businesses and your community through these unprecedented times.”
Further announcements about the Household Support Fund will be made in the coming weeks.

shawn mach
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UB40
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There seems to a lot of variation in ” generosity “. Cornwall’s HSF has not yet been signed off by cabinet but will be restricted to food vouchers and fuel topups.
Across the Devon border clients are receiving ....”.warm clothing, blankets, boiler servicing or repair, repairing or replacing essential appliances and/or white goods including Fridges, Freezers, Ovens, Washing Machines etc.-Wider Essentials - This can include help towards support with other bills that cannot be deferred (such as phone/broadband bills, transport-related costs (such as vehicle repair, paying for fuel or even purchasing a bicycle) or clothing (such as formal wear for job interviews etc.) “

Paul Stockton
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Essex County Council has spent about 8% of its allocation on free school meal vouchers for the half term break. A decision on the rest should be made any day now.

Keith S Adviser
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The latest response from one local Council in the North West, Currently we do not have anything in place for the Household Support fund as we are awaiting more information and are currently in the process of implementing this.

If any financial assistance is required currently, we would advise to go forward with the discretionary scheme.

The disjointed and somewhat contradictory responses are looking more like a copy Viz, as opposed to a joint approach to alleviate poverty.