Everything you need to know about the Household Support Fund

Last modified on Friday 12 January 2024

woman concerned about money while shopping with toddler

Find out what the Household Support Fund is, how it's being paid, who is eligible and what to do now to see if you can get it

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, accessing all the help available is increasingly important to families. The Household Support Fund is one of the schemes you may not be aware of – but able to benefit from.

Here, get answers to all your questions about the Household Support Fund, including how to find out if you're eligible and how to apply.

What is the Household Support Fund?

The Household Support Fund (HSF) is a financial scheme first introduced in 2021 to help families struggling with the rising cost of living.

This financial year the government has allocated £842 million to the Household Support Fund. This money is given to local councils to support low-income families in their area. How councils allocate this money and who is eligible varies from council to council.

The HSF is supported by the Department for Work and Pensions. It is due to come to an end on 31 March 2024 so families are advised to apply for help as soon as possible.

You can see a list of the support available here, broken down by area.

Who can get the Household Support Fund?

The Household Support Fund is for anyone who can't pay for essentials. This includes:

  • energy and water bills
  • food
  • essential items

However, your local council decides the form that the money is available and the eligibility criteria. So it's important to first contact your council to find out the specifics in your area.

How to apply for the Household Support Fund

Local councils decide how to administer and pay out from the fund.

Some councils have used the money from the DWP to allocate funds to local essential services. These include:

  • Free school meals
  • Local food banks
  • Community organisations that support the vulnerable
  • Carers
  • Supermarket voucher for items like air fryers or slow cookers

Other councils are providing money directly to families that qualify, so they can spend the money on the things they need. This may be in the form of money or vouchers.

However you'll need to be quick.

As an example, Stockton-on-Tees council is making £300 cash payments to households who don't get council tax reductions and aren't eligible for other cost of living payments. However, applying for the payment is first come-first served and when it's gone, it's gone.

The first step is to get in touch with your local council and find out what they are doing with the Household Support Fund allocated to them.

You can find details of your local council here.

After that you can either apply for it via the council, or ask to be referred to the one of the services that is getting funding to provide it to the public.

Find your local council on the government website

What are councils offering?

Exactly what help is available depends on where you live, but each council across the country has its own initiative to offer support. For example:

In Birmingham, the council is giving eligible residents £200 if they experience financial hardship, particularly with regard to food and energy costs.

Ealing council will give struggling families supermarket vouchers to help with food costs. This could be up to £175 in February 2024.

In Newcastle, the local authority is issuing its share of the Household Support Fund to residents on Housing Benefit who are not eligible for the Government's £900 cost of living payment, in the form of a cash grant.

Portsmouth council will be accepting HSF applications again from 15 January - 2 February, and again from 26 February - 15 March.. Eligible families could be entitled to 'Family vouchers' in the form of £150 in supermarket vouchers (per child).

Households in West Northamptonshire who are in work but are struggling can apply for a £300 payment to help with essentials, childcare costs and more.

These are just some of the available HSF initiatives. See the full list of what's available here.

What can I spend the money on?

Not everybody will get Household Support Fund money directly, as it's your local council who decides how to spend it.

If your local council provides the money directly to families, they do so on the understanding that you'll be using it for specific purposes, such as fuel, bills and groceries. Some councils are offering supermarket vouchers, rather than cash.

Do I have to pay back money from the Household Support Fund?

No. The money or services you get from the Fund do not have to be paid back.

Does getting money from the Household Support Fund affect other benefits?

You may be worried that getting these payments from your council can affect your other benefit payments such as Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance. The good news is: it doesn't!

So you don't have to worry that applying for HSF money will result in a reduction of other payments you're receiving.

More cost of living help

The 10-minute check to see if you're missing out on benefits

CHAT: Budget hacks to keep kids entertained over summer break

Martin Lewis' top money-saving tips

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