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Household Support Fund

The council has been allocated a further round of Household Support Fund Grant Funding (HSF) - called HSF4 - by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to use between April 2023 and March 2024 to support some low income and vulnerable households facing defined cost of living pressures.

HSF4 support will be made available in stages and this page will be updated as and when these offers become available.

HSF4 will provide a range of discretionary support rather than being legal entitlements and all awards are based on funding still being available.

HSF4 is a very small part of the overall support that the government is providing to households' - Please look at the government's own  Cost of Living Hub for more information

Please also look at our   www.sunderland.gov.uk/financial-wellbeing  page for details of more support including additional help with energy costs/energy efficiency, and other support services/schemes.

Cost of Living Payments

A major part of government support will be the three types of Cost of Living Payment that are being made to specific household types, and some households may receive all three types of payment:

·         £900 is being paid to Universal Credit, Pension Credit and other means tested DWP benefits, and HMRC Tax Credit claimants in three stages between Spring 2023 and Spring 2024 with payments being worth £301, £300, and £299. The final payment of £299 is being paid to most people that received one of these benefits between 13 November 2023 - 12 December 2023 and with the payment being made in most cases between 6 February 2024 and 22 February 2024

·         £150 was paid to disabled households receiving one of several disability benefits (mainly Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment) with payments being made in most cases between 20 June and 4 July 2023

·         £150 or £300 is being paid to pensioners entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment (in addition to their normal winter fuel payment), with payments being made over the winter 2023/2024 period

Council HSF Support - automatic payments

Most support will be made automatically without households having to apply.

·         The council will again be making some payments to some low-income vulnerable households based on data matching between Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support and Adult Social Care records - but with pensioner households that have not received the £900 Cost of Living Payment being prioritised for support. These payments are being made automatically towards the end of 2023 / early 2024 based entirely on the data matching exercise and without households that are eligible having to apply

·         The council and Together for Children have allocated HSF funding for free school meal vouchers to pupils eligible for means tested free school meals to cover the Easter, Summer, and Christmas holiday periods. Support for each holiday is 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

Council HSF Support - applications

Households that are struggling financially, are in crisis and are unable to meet the cost of energy/heating, food, or other essential bills, may be eligible for support under the council's HSF application scheme.

HSF Applications were accepted in 2 phases in 2023 and the final phase for applications will be open between 8 January 2024 and 31 March 2024.

Only one application can be awarded per household between April 2023 and March 2024, and all awards are dependent on there being sufficient remaining funding.

All applications are evidence based and you will need to provide details of the following before you could qualify for help:

  • Income
  • Savings
  • Details of financial difficulty - such as major fuel bills or pre-existing and significant debts 

Support may be in the form of supermarket vouchers / prepayment meter top ups, help towards other bills or be delivered in other ways, with the value of support being based on household size and liability for fuel bills. 

Where to apply: The scheme will mainly be delivered by contracted local Voluntary & Community Sector Partners (area based HSF contractors). Alternatively, you can apply directly to the council by contacting 0191 520 5551  

Who May be eligible for help: All applicants must have limited incomes and savings to qualify, and priority is being given to households in the following 3 groups that will not receive the main government £900 Cost of Living Payment. From January 2024 Award values start at £250 for a single person that is also liable for fuel bills. People that have already been awarded HSF but for a lower amount are being contacted to increase the amount of their award

Normally, university students are not eligible for HSF support

1

Working age households that do not receive DWP means tested benefits / HMRC Tax Credits and did not / will not receive the £900 COL payment

You must meet all 3 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 £2000.

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*  

2

For households that do receive DWP means tested benefits / HMRC Tax Credits but did not receive the £900 COL payment - or due to receive full payment

You must meet all 3 of the following conditions

1.     You must   

a)      Have only claimed these benefits after the qualifying date for the first Cost of Living Payment or second date depending on when your application is made

b)     These benefit claims have now ended so you will not qualify for future Cost of Living Payments

c)      You did not qualify for the Cost-of-Living Payment because you had a nil Universal Credit Award - for example because your income was too high that assessment period or because you were sanctioned (and did not receive a DWP hardship payment) 

2.      Have savings worth less than £2000.

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*

3

Pensioner Households that do not receive DWP means tested benefits / HMRC Tax Credits - and did not / will not receive £900 COL payment

You must meet all 3 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 £2000.

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*

 

If you do receive DWP Means Tested Benefits / HMRC Tax Credits and are due to receive all of the  £900 Cost of Living Payment, you may still be eligible for support from the Household Support Fund, but you must meet all of the following criteria Award values start at £170 for a single person that is also liable for fuel bills.

Normally, university students are not eligible for HSF support

4

DWP means tested benefit / HMRC Tax Credits recipients and due to receive the full £900

Cost of Living Payment

You must meet one of the following 5 conditions

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

·         You are working and on Universal Credit but do not qualify for Free School meals because your income is above £7400 per year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

·         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

·         Your Benefits are reduced due to the Benefit Cap

·         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 2 months)

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

·         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

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

·         Lost job, and where UC or other benefit payments do not make up the difference

You must also meet both of the following conditions

1.       Have savings worth less than £2000.

2.      meet one of the following criteria  

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

c.      Receive Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support

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

 

 *Pre-existing/significant debt/debt repayments for HSF means any of the following (for debts that you have before 11 September 2023):

·         Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA)

·         Pre-existing debt worth more than £4000 (excluding mortgage balance/HP balance/normal rent payments)   

·         More than 2 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 for 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 additional funding for its Local Welfare Support Scheme. 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

 

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