• Press release

Thousands of London schoolchildren and families receive Household Support Fund lifeline

London boroughs are urging Government to continue the Household Support Fund, which has provided meals for 472,000 London children during school holidays over the past year.

A new survey by London Councils shows the impact that London boroughs have had on residents’ lives thanks to the fund, which included:

• Providing meals for 472,000 children during the school holidays.
• Giving emergency food support to 218,000 families.
• Numerous one-off payments for essential items such as food, clothes, gas and electricity, replacing essential household appliances and school uniforms.
• Salaries for support and advice workers to help people address longer term issues including housing, employment and debt.
• Funding voluntary and community sector organisations to deliver services and support.

The Household Support Fund, which in London was worth £135.7 million in 2023/24, has given London boroughs the resources to provide assistance to residents, tailored to individual circumstances.

In London the fund has been crucial to address the impact of the high cost of living on low-income families across the capital. According to London Councils’ most recent Survey of Londoners, 75 per cent of residents see the cost of living as the most important issue facing London today.

Government has not yet confirmed whether the Household Support Fund will be renewed for the next financial year. London Councils is calling on the government to continue to fund the Household Support Fund in 2024/25 at existing levels and to provide councils with urgent confirmation of this to avoid job losses and interruptions in essential service provision.

If funding cannot be provided at the same level, at a minimum, London Councils believes there should be a multi-year transitional phase to help local authorities plan.

If the fund is not renewed at all, the invaluable support it enables boroughs to provide is unlikely to continue. Due to the severe financial pressures faced by London boroughs there is no alternative funding stream for these services.

A Westminster Hall Debate on the Household Support Fund organised by London MP and Work and Pensions Committee Chair Sir Stephen Timms is taking place today (Wednesday 31 January). Other London MPs are expected to attend to debate this issue and discuss how it affects their constituents.

Cllr Claire Holland, Deputy Chair of London Councils, said:

“The life-changing impact of the Household Support Fund is clear. London boroughs have put the £135.7 million fund to good use, providing meals for thousands of children during school holidays and giving low-income families a precious lifeline to help them get back on their feet, whether that involves covering a gas bill or paying for school uniforms.

“As our most vulnerable residents continue to face high living costs, we are calling on Government to continue the Household Support Fund and confirm this as soon as possible. Then boroughs can get on with the job of transforming lives by delivering support where it is most needed.”

A Westminster resident who received help via the Household Support Fund said:

"…having a safe space for my children, getting to choose what my children get to eat, is a feeling that I can’t fully express. And it's not just about food, things like shampoo, toothpaste, washing powder, basics that I often have gone without, or worried about when they are going to run out. I am now in a position where I can think about a future for me and my family, something that I did not think would be possible."

A Harrow resident who attended the Conversation Café, a welcoming and safe drop-in session funded by the Household Support Fund said:

“I found out so much and everybody was so welcoming and helpful. I spoke to a CAB (Citizens Advice) officer, and she helped me and has given me so much helpful advice and I will be back. Thank you all for your kindness.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

The Westminster Hall Debate on the Household Support Fund tabled by Sir Stephen Timms, Work and Pensions Committee Chair and MP for East Ham, takes place on Wednesday 31 January from 4.30pm to 5.30pm.

London boroughs will continue to face enormous and unsustainable budget pressures in 2024/25, despite government plans to increase funding. The government’s 6.4% increase to London’s Core Spending Power in the provisional settlement and additional funding announced on 24 January will bring some relief, but it will not be enough to address all of the skyrocketing costs and financial distress that boroughs are experiencing. London Councils still anticipates a combined funding shortfall of over £400 million in 2024/25 for London local authorities.

 

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