Council calls for crisis funding to be extended

21st February 2024

Sefton Council has joined nationwide calls to extend a crucial financial support scheme for struggling households.

Organisations including The Children’s Society, Trussell Trust, Barnardo’s, the Local Government Association, and other councils across the country are calling on the Government to extend the Household Support Fund, which is due to end on 31st March. The fund enables councils to provide emergency support suited to the needs of their communities, whether that is so families can buy essentials such as food, energy or help with providing white goods or furniture.

In the last year Sefton Council has supported 24,165 of households including 12,221 families with children. The ongoing national cost-of-living crisis along with inflated rental and mortgage costs has forced many more families into financial crisis and put them on the brink of destitution.

The Household Support Fund can be used to support families by providing vouchers for food. In one case shared with The Children’s Society this meant a mother could use her benefits to keep the bailiffs away and to help her get on top of things after fleeing domestic violence. It will be a long slow journey to financial stability, but without the help of the household support fund, they would have had possessions taken by bailiffs and faced the potential loss of their home. She described the vouchers as a blessing and a lifeline.

Without this funding there are concerns there will be a major gap in support which could severely affect children’s health, wellbeing and life chances.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Leader of Sefton Council said: “Sefton Council has used this valuable DWP-administered fund to support children with food over the school holidays, provide winter fire safety packs, make foodbank donations and run affordable warmth programmes. We have also provided support with energy bills, help for young people leaving care, a network of warm and welcome spaces to help prevent social isolation, winter clothing, school uniforms, pyjamas and dressing gowns, and food vouchers.

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“It has been invaluable for us as a council to support our communities to ensure our children are supported through this cost of living crisis.  We are facing a cliff-edge of funding unless this support is continued.

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said “The Household Support Fund has provided a vital safety net for so many families facing financial crisis and destitution.

“We have seen it provide a wide range of support such help when a family has a sudden job loss, bereavement or boiler breakdown. It can also as supplying food vouchers for children over the summer. We are really concerned that if the funding is not renewed past March these vouchers will disappear and holiday hunger will be a major issue.

“We are asking the public to write to their MP to call on the Government to take action and extend the fund so families in crisis aren’t left without support.”

The Children’s Society wants people to email their MP to #SaveCrisisSupport using his link –  https://act.childrenssociety.org.uk/page/144136/action/1