-A A +A
Select color visibility that suits you Basic theme Dark theme Darker theme Text only

Government £500 million support fund for “vulnerable households” no replacement for keeping and extending UC uplift says DR UK

30 September 2021

The Government today announced that “vulnerable households” across the country will be able to access a new £500 million support fund “to help them with essentials over the coming months as the country continues its recovery from the pandemic”:

“A new £500m Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households as we continue our recovery from the pandemic has been launched by the Government.

 This new scheme is designed to help vulnerable households with the essentials, including food costs and utility bills.

In England, the money will be distributed by councils, who know their local areas best and can directly help those who need it most, including, for example, through small grants to meet daily costs.

Up to £79 million of the fund will be split between the devolved administrations.

 The fund will start in October and run over winter.

Those in need of support and organisations interested in bidding for funding should contact their local authority, as it will be up to each local authority to decide precise eligibility for the scheme and how best to support members of their communities.”

The announcement of the Household Support Fund comes on the eve of the ending of the £20 week uplift to Universal Credit and a warning from the housing charity Crisis that more than 100,000 renters on Universal Credit are at risk of eviction by being two or more months behind with their rent.

Earlier this month, Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

The £20 cut will plunge hundreds of thousands, including children, into poverty. Instead, the Government should extend the lifeline beyond September.

… Benefit rates have not kept up with the rising cost of living, and the Government’s plan means that, in real terms, they will fall to their lowest level in over 30 years. The Government must change course to prevent severe hardship for many thousands of families.”

The Disability Benefits Consortium also recently published new research - The Millions Missing out - highlighting that thousands of Disabled people on out of work benefits, such as ESA are facing considerable mental health and physical challenges as the pandemic has left them struggling financially.

In addition, the United Nations’ envoy on extreme poverty added his  voice by saying that cutting Universal Credit by £20 per week is an “unconscionable” move that breaches international human rights law and is likely to trigger an explosion of poverty.

Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy and Adviser said:

“The Household Support Fund is a woefully inadequate ‘solution’ to situation facing those on Universal Credit and legacy benefits this winter.

It is not only discretionary, it is cash limited and is likely to be a postcode lottery.

The decision to end the Universal Credit £20 week uplift needs to be urgently reversed and extended to those on legacy benefits – who include two million disabled people.

Adequate financial support must be a legal right not a matter of cash-limited discretionary charity.”

For more information see Government launches £500m support for vulnerable households over winter available from gov.uk.