Sustain has joined Barnardo’s open letter to the Chancellor alongside representatives from more than 120 other organisations calling for an urgent extension to the fund. The charities warn of the ‘devastating consequences’ for families facing hardship if the fund is not extended.
There has been no confirmation that the Household Support Fund will be extended beyond March 2024.The Department for Work and Pensions awards the Fund to councils in England to support residents with the cost of essentials like food and energy, while devolved administrations receive their allocations through the Barnett formula. It was first launched on 6 October 2021, has been extended several times and it’s worth £2 billion over its lifetime.
It has become a lifeline for councils and Voluntary and Community Sector organisations (VCSOs) to support our most vulnerable residents to access healthy food, particularly children on free school meals during school holidays. Across 2021/22 and 2022/23, 63% of the fund was delivered via targeted grants, including vouchers for families in receipt of free school meals in the holidays. In 2022/23, 37% of the Fund went to free school meal support in the holidays. There is currently no alternative to keeping children fed healthily during Easter, summer, Christmas, and half-term breaks. The February half term – 12 Feb to 16 Feb – will be the last school holiday where vouchers will be funded, increasing the risk that some children will experience holiday hunger during the Easter holidays if the Fund is not renewed.
Not extending it beyond March 2024 will leave a major gap in support, which neither local government, nor the voluntary sector will be able to fill.
Ahead of the Spring Budget, the 120+ sigantories are urging the Chancellor to extend the Household Support Fund for at least the next year, so that families facing hardship, hunger, and unexpected costs are able to get the help they need in their communities.
Published Tuesday 6 February 2024
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