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Household Support Fund

Household Support Fund (HSF5)

The council has been allocated a further round of Household Support Fund Grant Funding (HSF) - called HSF5, by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to use between April 2024 and September 2024 to support some low income and vulnerable households facing defined cost of living pressures.

HSF5 support is being developed and will be made available in stages. This page will be updated as and when these offers become available.

HSF5 will provide a range of discretionary support rather than being legal entitlements and all awards are based on funding still being available.

Council HSF support - Automatic Payments

HSF support will be available in stages but most support will be provided automatically without households having to apply.

  • The council will again be making some payments to some low-income vulnerable households. Most payments will be made to adult social care users that receive personal budgets from Sunderland City Council (and that are not permanently resident in a care home) The payments should be made automatically before the end of August 2024 based on a data matching exercise using Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support records and adult social care records.

Households will not need to apply, as these payments are automatically identified, and payments sent. If you have not received support through this route and think that you may be eligible and have not been contacted, please contact the council from the end of August and complete a Household Support Fund Application.

  • The Council and Together for Children have again allocated HSF funding for free school meal vouchers to pupils eligible for means tested free school meals to cover the summer holiday period. Support will be worth £60 per pupil and will be distributed via their schools. The voucher will be in addition to a wide range of Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) provision across the city. HSF funding will also be used to boost the overall resources available for overall HAF/summer provision.

HSF application criteria (June - September 2024)

Households that are vulnerable struggling financially and in crisis and that are unable to meet the cost of energy/heating, food, or other essential bills, may be eligible for support under the councils HSF application scheme. This is live from 24 June 2024 until the end of September, subject to there being remaining funding for awards.

To apply for HSF support please contact either:

There are different criteria for applications. Please check which one of the below three groups you fit into to find out which application criteria you must meet:


Group 1: Working age households that do not receive DWP means tested benefits/HMRC tax credits.

 You must meet all three of the following conditions:

1.      Have an annual gross income of less than £30,250 (single person) or £47,000 (for a couple) 

2.      Have savings worth less than £750

3.      Meet one of the following criteria:  

a)     Are an unpaid carer

b)     Are classed as being in fuel poverty (10% of net income spent on fuel)

c)     Receive Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support (non-passported)

d)     Have significant pre-existing debts or debt repayments*  



Group 2: Pensioner households that do not receive DWP means tested benefits/HMRC Tax Credits

You must meet all three of the following conditions: 

1.      Have an annual gross income of less than £13,700 (single person) or £29,500 (for a couple) 

2.      Have savings worth less than £750

3.      Meet one of the following criteria:  

a)    Are an unpaid carer

b)    Are classed as being in fuel poverty (10% of net income spent on fuel)

c)    Receive Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support (non-passported)

d)    Have significant pre-existing debts or debt repayments*



Group 3: DWP means tested benefit/HMRC Tax Credits recipients

You must meet one of the following five conditions:

1.   You have dependent children, and you are under significant financial pressure because of at least one of the following:

a) You are working and on Universal Credit but do not qualify for free school meals because your income is above £7, 400 per year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

b) You are on Child Tax Credit but do not get free school meals - normally because you also get Working Tax Credit or have a gross income of above £16,190 per year

c) Your benefits are reduced due to the Benefit Cap

d) You do not receive additional benefits for your children due to the '2 child limit'.

2.   You are an unpaid carer (this means that you receive Carers Allowance, underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance or have a carers premium)

3.   You receive Universal Credit or another DWP means tested benefit but do not get any help/only limited help with your mortgage

4.   You have significant pre-existing debt or debt repayments*  

5.   You are under exceptional financial pressure because of one of one of the following recent events (within previous two months):

a) Recent family breakdown/split which has led to short term loss of income or requirement to move

b) Reduction in available income due to having to buy replacement essential household items (e.g. fridges/washing machines, cookers, beds, and other furniture) due to recent flood, fire, or similar disaster - and where insurance, DWP, council or similar schemes have not provided support

c) Reduction in available income due to having to repair essential household items (e.g. fridges / washing machines, cookers, beds) and where insurance, DWP, council or similar schemes have not provided support. Proof of repair costs from an established company would be needed

d) Other family changes - increase in family size without increase in income (other than child benefit), death in family

e) Lost job, and where Universal Credit (UC) or other benefit payments do not make up the difference

f) You have transferred from legacy benefits (IRESA, JSA, TCs) to UC and you have had more than a 10% drop in income (benefits/wages) due specifically to this change.

You must also meet both of the following conditions.

1.      Have savings worth less than £750

2.      Meet one of the following criteria:

a) Are classed as being in fuel poverty (10% of net income spent on fuel)

b) Receive Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support

c) Have significant pre-existing debts or debt repayments*


*Pre-existing/significant debt/debt repayments for HSF means any of the following (for debts that people have before 17 June 2024):

  • Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)
  • Pre-existing debt worth more than £4000 (excluding mortgage balance/Hire Purchase balance/normal rent payments)
  • More than two months of pre-existing mortgage/rent arrears (worth £500 or more)
  • Pre-existing priority debt repayments - for example Council Tax arrears, gas and electricity arrears and Hire Purchase Agreements (worth £500 or more)


Other HSF funded support

The council is also providing additional support to a range of other organisations to directly support their own customers. This includes support for foodbanks/food aid providers to enable them to meet additional demands and supplement their existing offers.

The council is also providing extra funding for its Local Welfare Support Scheme to help it meet additional demands. This can assist vulnerable households' that are struggling financially under certain circumstances.

If you are struggling financially, vulnerable, and unable to meet your immediate needs, you may be eligible for support. 

  • Crisis Support may provide help with food where a foodbank is unable to help and fuel (only for prepayment meter customers) where you have experienced an unforeseen crisis or emergency
  • Community Care Support can, in certain circumstances, help with the costs of essential furniture and white goods when moving into a new home -or by exception - with replacement items

The council's Financial Wellbeing Support Hub and the Government's Cost of Living Hub include details of other cost of living support that is avaialble.


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