To consider the proposed allocation of the Household Support Fund for use between April 2023 and March 2024 and authorise implementation of the Fund allocations. Delegated authority is also sought for the allocation of revised funding, should any future determinations be made before March 2024.
Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Councillor Heather Timms
Councillor Heather Timms (Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate and Culture) summarised this report which sought approval for the allocation of the £6.945m Household Support Fund for 2023/24 and submission of the delivery plan to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). In doing so, she explained that the objective of the national Household Support Fund was to provide support to vulnerable households in most need of support to help with significantly rising living costs, specifically food, energy and water bills, grants to breakfast clubs etc and administration. The 2023/24 grant was an extension of the grant provided for local welfare schemes through covid and was now extended to support the most vulnerable with the cost-of-living. Councillor Timms drew attention to Appendix 1 of the report which detailed the proposed allocation of the Fund for the period between April 2023 and March. She noted that it was a requirement that the Fund must be spent or committed before 31 March 2024 and could not be held over for future usage.
In response to a question from Councillor Isobel Seccombe, Councillor Timms advised that she was working alongside Councillor Kam Kaur to bring forward ideas to drive forward encouraging those who were eligible for free school meals to take advantage of the provision.
Responding to a question from Councillor Margaret Bell regarding the provision of sanitary products for girls, Councillor Timms advised that the team would be addressing these issues and urged families to get in touch if they required support. Councillor Seccombe noted that Scrutiny was undertaking work on this issue and Councillor Timms advised that the lead officer would welcome opportunities to collaborate with colleagues on raising awareness and delivery of the Fund.
1. Approves the proposed allocation of the £6.945m Household Support Fund (HSF) for use between April 2023 and March 2024 as set out in the report, and subject to approval of the delivery plan by the Department of Work and Pensions, authorises the Strategic Director for Resources to implement the Fund allocations; and
2. Authorises the Strategic Director for Resources, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment, Climate & Culture to allocate revised funding should the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (“the Secretary of State”), in exercise of the powers conferred by section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003, make any future determinations before 31 March 2024