Households most in need, including families with children of all ages, older people and other low-income households - particularly those who are unable to increase their income through work - will be the focus of the latest round of funding to support them through the winter to the end of March.
In line with government guidance we’ve set out how the Household Support Fund (HSF) grant will be primarily allocated to support households with the costs of food, energy for heating, lighting and cooking, water for household purposes and other essential living needs.
Announcing the spending plan today (Wednesday 2 November 2022) Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said:
“Many Derbyshire households are facing financial hardship, particularly those including children and pensioners, and our wide-ranging Household Support Fund spending plan is a major part of our support package to help them buy food, pay their energy bills and meet other essential living and housing costs over the cold winter months.
“We’ve taken care to plan for a fair distribution of this funding between families with children, pensioners and other households over the next few months but will monitor the situation closely and have the flexibility to adjust our costings if demand is higher in some areas than others.
“Distributing funds to vulnerable households facing financial pressure supports our ongoing work to prevent residents entering crisis as well as helping to protect public services and the wider Derbyshire economy.”
There are some changes in the eligibility requirements of the third-round grant extension compared to those in round 2 which saw 33% of the fund ringfenced for families with children and 33% ringfenced for pensioners.
There is no ring-fencing this time although we will have to record how many pensioners, disabled households and households with children are awarded support and must also have a portion of the fund available for households to apply to directly.
Acknowledging that local authorities are best placed to identify and help those most in need in their own communities the government guidance sets out that:
- authorities can deliver the scheme through a variety of routes including providing vouchers, providing food or goods directly or by issuing grants to partnership agencies
- county councils should consider working with district and borough councils and other agencies such as community groups, voluntary organisations and charities to ensure people who are most in need are helped
- authorities are expected to particularly consider groups who may not have benefitted from any recent cost of living support schemes
- authorities are required to operate at least part of their scheme on an application basis to ensure residents who choose to can ask for support
It is also recommended that we build on the successful methods we developed in our previous HSF funding rounds and use a varied approach to distributing the grant to help ensure the funds reach a wide range of households needing financial support, including those who may not currently be claiming welfare benefits.
Meanwhile, to meet the requirement that residents can apply directly to the council for HSF support in this round, £1 million of our allocation will support our Derbyshire Discretionary Fund (DDF) which helps residents facing crisis and emergency situations and operates on a direct application basis.
Councillor Lewis added:
“Our spending plan, which combines targeted support and a direct application process, will help reach a wider range of vulnerable residents and make it less likely for people to fall through the gaps.”
The DDF’s eligibility criteria will be adjusted to make best use of this additional funding up to March 2023.
Our Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said:
“It’s vital we provide our most in need residents with practical support to help them stay healthy and well while they deal with financial challenges caused by the rising cost of living, particularly as we move into the colder winter months.
“As the fund now starts to be distributed we will continue to work with our partnership organisations to review progress and aim to address issues should they arise to ensure we support vulnerable residents in the most practical way possible.”
The Chancellor announced in May that the Household Support Fund would be extended with a third round of funding to cover October 2022 to 31 March 2023 as part of a number of measures to provide help with global inflationary challenges and the significant rise in the cost of living. Our allocation was confirmed as £5,404,080.
The first round of HSF funding covered October 2021 to March this year and the second round covered April to September this year.
Confirmation of the third round HSF spending plan follows our announcement on 18 October 2022 that we are providing more than £780,000 to support residents affected by the rising cost of living this winter - part of a package of financial support being given to projects and organisations across the county that support vulnerable people with practical help, advice and information.
We have also approved a £50,000 fund to support warm spaces in community venues for residents and their families who are struggling to heat their homes.
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