Who will benefit from £500million Household Support Fund – and how to apply

Dan Walker grills Boris Johnson on the cost of living

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As the furlough scheme and Universal Credit uplift scheme came to an end this week, the Government announced it was launching a £500million support plan to help those most in need. But who will benefit and how can people apply?

The new Household Support Fund has been introduced to help vulnerable people pay for food, clothing and utilities.

From this month, the money will be distributed by councils in England, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed.

Many people will be desperate to find out if they qualify for this extra help as the cut to Universal Credit has made six million families £1,000 a year worse off.

The fund will be given on a discretionary basis to families in need who must let their local council know if they are struggling.

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However, the new fund of £500million falls far short of the £6billion funding for the £20 uplift in Universal Credit which ended on October 6.

This has led the Government to come under fire for taking with one hand and giving with another.

Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Paul Novak said workers are being hit with a triple whammy thanks to the end of furlough, the cut to Universal Credit and the planned rise in National Insurance.

“My worry is that while the government is giving with one hand it’s taking away with another.

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“I think workers are just worried about a triple whammy, not only the end of the furlough scheme, but we know we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis as well.

“Lots of low paid workers are going to have a big hit in their pockets with the end of the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit and next year we’ve got the rise in National Insurance which again will hit the lowest paid workers harder.”

However, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said the UK Government has been more generous than other European countries when it comes to helping people through the pandemic.

He said: “Our new Household Support Fund will provide a lifeline for those at risk of struggling to keep up with their bills over the winter, adding to the support the government is already providing to help people with the cost of living.

“The UK Government has kept its Covid-related economic support in place until September, helping people through the toughest stages of the pandemic and well beyond the end of the roadmap, with more generous timelines than other countries in Europe.”

Joseph Rowntree Foundation deputy director Helen Barnard said the new scheme won’t be enough to keep families off the breadline.

“The Household Support Fund is an 11th hour attempt to save face as the Government presses ahead with an unprecedented overnight cut to Universal Credit next week.

“It does not come close to meeting the scale of the challenge facing millions of families on low incomes as a cost-of-living crisis looms and our social security system is cut down to inadequate levels.”

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Local authorities will have their own eligibility criteria when it comes to which families deserve the help, so at this stage it’s impossible to say who will qualify and who won’t.

That means that anyone in need of financial help could qualify.

The best way to find out is to contact the local authority, details can be found on gov.uk

It might be advisable to get in early before funds run dry.

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