April 25, 2024

Urgent warning for thousands to claim share of £85million before deadline

HOUSEHOLDS have just five weeks left to claim their share of an £85million pot to cover the high cost of living.

The help comes via the Household Support Fund (HSF), which ends on March 31.

There’s millions of pounds left to claim from the Household Support Fund

Over £360million has been allocated from the latest round of the fund, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

But figures exclusively shared with The Sun by credit lender Creditspring reveal there’s still £85million worth of the pot left to allocate.

The figures, based on responses from 100 councils across England to a Freedom of Information request made on January 5 show Derbyshire City Council and Leeds City Council had the largest amounts left to allocate before the March 31 deadline.

Derbyshire Council had £6,519,408 left in the kitty while Leeds City Council had £5,624,353 after being allocated £10.8million and £14million respectively.

Both councils said they had deliberately spread their distribution of the fund to ensure households were covered across the year.

Meanwhile, Leicester City Council, Surrey County Council and Tower Hamlets Council in England also featured in the top 10 local authority areas with the largest amounts left to allocate.

Neil Kadagathur, chief executive officer and co-founder of Creditspring, said: “With the end of the scheme fast approaching, all councils must ensure that all available support is provided to the struggling households who need it the most.”

Out of the 100 councils Creditspring approached, 82 had money remaining from their share of the HSF.

This included Shropshire Council, which had over £700,000 left to allocate and Halton Borough Council, which had more than £800,000 left to distribute on January 5.

Cambridgeshire Council also had over £1.4million to share between residents and Bournemouth had almost £1.4million in the bank.

Seven councils said they had fully dished out their share, including Trafford Council, Ribble Valley Borough Council and Halifax Council.

Mr Kadagathur added: “With over a dozen councils still to award over £1million from the Household Support Fund, the race is on to not only boost awareness and simplify the application process so households can apply in time but also to identify vulnerable people who they could proactively provide vital support to.

“Without this support it’s likely that an increasing number of already vulnerable individuals will be forced to turn to high-cost credit products, or predatory lenders.”

What is the Household Support Fund and who is eligible?

The Household Support Fund was first launched in October 2021 to help Brits cover the increasing cost of living.

Councils in England received a slice of £500million in funding and were left to dish it out to households in need.

It was then extended for a second time in the 2022 Spring Budget and for a third time in October 2022.

In February last year, the DWP extended the scheme for a fourth time through to March 31, 2024.

Until now, the Government has refused to confirm if it will be extended again.

However, The Sun understands it has not ruled out a fifth extension, with one “under review”.

Who qualifies for help through the scheme varies as each council gets to decide its own eligibility criteria.

But, in most cases, help is dished out to those on benefits or a low income.

For example, Doncaster Council is giving out help to those on housing benefit, council tax reductions, Universal Credit and free school meals.

Meanwhile, Dorset Council is handing out support to those with an annual household net income or less than £30,000 and savings of less than £16,000.

How much can I get?

As with eligibility, how much you can get via the Household Support Fund varies depending on where you live.

For example, Kent County Council is offering residents virtual prepaid cards to the value of £100 which can be used to pay off energy bills.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth City Council is offering out supermarket vouchers worth £150.

Dorset Council is rolling out round four of its Household Support Fund, which includes supermarket vouchers worth £150.

You should check on your local council’s website to see what help is available, or give them a call to find out more.

Not all councils are handing out support to individual residents – some are using their funding to upgrade people’s homes.

For example, Kingston upon Hull Council has used the fund to pay for hundreds of boilers and radiators for hard-up families.

How to apply

You should check with your local council if you qualify first, and then get further details on how to apply.

You can do this by using the gov.uk council finder tool.

Once you’ve found your council, there should be more information on how to apply on its website.

Each council will have a different application process – so exact details on how to apply will vary depending on where you live.

Some councils won’t require you to apply for the help and they’ll contact you about it instead if you qualify.

If there’s no information on your council’s website, ring them up and ask for more details.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing money@the-sun.co.uk.

Plus, you can join our Sun Money Chats and Tips Facebook group to share your tips and stories.

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