politics

Millions to access £500m winter grants after £20 benefit cut – see who qualifies


The payments will be available through local authorities and are aimed at those who may struggle to make ends meet as inflation, a Universal Credit cut and the end of furlough take effect

The grant is a pot of money worth £500million which has been handed out to local authorities across England

Vulnerable households across the country will be able to access a new £500m support fund to help cover essential bills over the coming months as the Chancellor strips a £20 a week lifeline from six million families.

The new Household Support Fund will be introduced to support those facing severe hardship in England and will be distributed by councils in England, the Department for Work and Pensions today said.

It comes amid rising inflation and a phased £20 a week cut to Universal Credit which will save the Treasury £6billion a year.

On October furlough and self-employed schemes will also end – leaving 250,000 people at risk of redundancy.

Meanwhile, energy costs will jump for 15m households on the energy price cap.

Those on a default dual fuel tariff, paying by direct debit will see an average annual increase of £139 from £1,138 to £1,277.

Combined, analysts say the average will need an extra £107 a month to cover their bills this winter.

The new scheme will replicate last year’s Winter Covid Grant. The DWP claims it will offer small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities and funding will be made available from October 2021.

Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “Over the last year, we have helped millions of people provide for their families.








It’s to support those who may fall through the cracks during the pandemic
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Image:

Getty)



“Our targeted Household Support Fund is here to help those vulnerable households with essential costs as we push through the last stages of our recovery from the pandemic.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak added: “Our new Household Support Fund will provide a lifeline for those at risk of struggling to keep up with their bills over the winter, adding to the support the government is already providing to help people with the cost of living.”

However, charities have described it as a ‘sticking plaster for a gaping wound’.

Joe Cox, Senior Policy Officer at Jubilee Debt Campaign said: “This small grant scheme is a mere sticking plaster for the gaping wound that will result from cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week.

“Borrowing for essentials has risen sharply over the pandemic and millions of struggling households are facing a cliff edge as the government winds up Covid support measures, including the furlough scheme which ends today.

“If the government really wants to ‘build back better’ it should not be cutting Universal Credit. It should instead write off the unpayable household debts that have been built up during the pandemic – a move that has public support and gives everyone a chance to reset their finances and rebuild their lives.”



How does it work and will people actually get the money?

The new fund will run over winter and will be accessible via your local authority.

Different areas will be given different amounts of cash depending on their size and how many people are struggling.

Each council can decide how the cash is used and who is eligible for the support.

It can be used to pay bills, get council tax support and provide school vouchers to children who qualify for free school meals over half term.

This fund will be in addition to the Warm Home Discount which provides a £140 rebate on energy bills.

Is the support enough to help struggling families? Let us know in the comments below




Cold Weather Payments will remain in place this winter, paying poorer households £25 a week when the temperature falls below zero over winter.

The support you can get depends on where you live. It’s best to contact your local authority directly to find out what help you can get.

In some areas you can apply directly to the council for money to pay for food or bills.

Find out how to contact your local authority, here.


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