Shropshire Star

Council joins call on Government to extend 'vital safety net' for families facing financial crisis

Telford & Wrekin Council has joined calls to extend a financial support scheme helping thousands of households which is due to end next month.

Shaun Davies, Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council

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.

The Household Support Fund is provided by the Government to local authorities to help provide emergency support to their residents.

Support includes help with energy and water bills, food and essential items and is available to anyone who is vulnerable and cannot pay for essentials.

The scheme is set to come to an end on March 31.

Over the last year, Telford & Wrekin Council has supported over 13,500 households with the increased cost of living, as well as inflated rental and mortgage costs forcing many more families into financial crisis and on the brink of destitution.

Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “Since the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout the cost of living crisis, the Household Support Fund has been an essential lifeline for many of the most financially vulnerable children and pension-age residents around the country.

“We know that many households depend on receiving this help and will find it hard to adjust if the Household Support Fund ends, as there is no alternative provision available.

"Our local food banks have had more demand this winter than ever, and we have no other discretionary funding available to support them further, or to allow us to increase the support we are directly providing to residents through our Crisis Assistance funding, which is also seeing unprecedented demand.

“What’s more, the removal of the Household Support Fund is likely to place additional pressure on other council services, such as mental health and social care for adults and children, which are already under severe financial strain.

“That’s why earlier this month, I wrote directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling on him to extend the Household Support Fund in next month’s Budget announcements, and it’s why Telford & Wrekin Council is joining the Children’s Society and other concerned organisations to reiterate that call now.”

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 as help when a family has a sudden job loss, bereavement or boiler breakdown. It can also supply 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.”