Late last year the Government announced it was ending funding for the Household Support Fund from April 2024.
Cllr Dawn Dale, Labour Chair of Education, Children and Families Committee, has written to government highlighting the impact that would be felt if this vital support was scrapped, with households in Sheffield facing a “dangerous cliff edge”.
Sheffield Council received £10.4m from the Household Support Fund in 2023/24 which was used to provide financial support to low income and vulnerable households. The Fund is a key part of the Council’s Cost of Living response and has helped tens of thousands of households in Sheffield to afford energy, food, clothes and other essentials. Importantly, the Household Support Fund is used to provide Free School Meal vouchers to 32,000 households during the school holidays.
With record levels of inflation and fuel price increases compounded by government failures on the economy, demand on the Fund is increasing. The number of Household Support Fund applications received per day in November 2023 was 112, which is a 148% increase on the same month last year, and in 2023 there was an overall 47% increase in applications compared to 2022.
As well as writing to government Labour councillors have proposed a motion to a meeting of all councillors on 7th February to push for cross party support in their demands to government.
Cllr Dawn Dale, Chair of the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee said:
“Every day, I speak to families and young people who benefit from and know the value of some of the measures we’re able to deliver as part of the Household Support Fund. They have lived experience of having to make decisions about whether to have a hot meal or not that day, having warm clothes to wear, money to get their children to school or themselves to appointments that would help them access opportunities to improve their own lives.
“The government was shamed into creating this vital fund following Marcus Rashford’s high profile campaign for free school meal vouchers for children over the holidays.
“But they have seemingly not learnt from past mistakes. The removal of the Household Support Fund in April would create a dangerous cliff edge for so many. It is simply unacceptable.
“But despite there being no signs of living standards improving or the cost of the most essential items reducing, this Tory government have made a choice to turn their backs on the most vulnerable in our society’.
“While the government is taking a sledgehammer to Council budgets, it is increasingly hard for the council to step in and help. Because of the Government’s economic mismanagement inflation is rampant, and Sheffield families are going without food and heat and getting into unmanageable debt for the basics.
“I have written to the Chancellor explaining how the Fund helps us to provide a safety net for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and the importance of it being extended beyond March this year. We’re asking all Sheffield councillors, of all parties, to help amplify our calls.