Leeds City Council has announced its plans for £7.1million of funding from the government’s one-off Household Support Fund.
The money enables councils to help vulnerable residents with the cost of food, fuel and essential items over the winter months and it must be spent by March 2022. The council has confirmed that £2.6m of its funding has been set aside for children and young people, with free meals set to be provided to approximately 38,000 children estimated to live in poverty in the city during the Christmas 2021 and February 2022 holidays.
As well as meals for school children, the funding will also be used to provide meal vouchers or equivalent to children ages 0-4 living in low-income households and care leavers on low incomes. In recognition of the rising costs of energy bills and household bills, up to £2.41million of the funding will be used to support families in receipt of Council Tax Support on the lowest incomes with the costs of fuel and essential household bills.
A further £1.5 million will be spent on welfare support for vulnerable and low-income households including assistance from the Leeds Local Welfare Support Scheme for food, fuel and essential items and additional financial support for residents identified as being in hardship.
£190,000 will be spent on food, fuel and essential items support delivered via a wide range of charities and food aid providers including through the Leeds Food Aid network. The funding will be spent through existing networks and programmes, so people do not need to apply to access it. If they are eligible, they will be made aware. Anyone who needs help with food and household bills and is not already linked in with their local welfare support scheme can call them on 0113 3760330.
Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities said:
“This year remains incredibly difficult for many of our most vulnerable residents and we are committed to supporting them through the coming winter period. This funding is incredibly valuable but it is not enough to provide long term solutions for our residents living in poverty. We have distributed it carefully in order to provide maximum support to those who need it the most. Anyone in need of emergency support should continue to get in touch through the local welfare support scheme so that we can help.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for learning, skills and employment said:
“It’s a sad fact that many families struggle to provide food for their children during school holidays and we are committed to helping them wherever we can. Many families have also recently been hit by the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift and, while the Household Support Fund is welcome, it is important to remember that it does not replace this and that many families will need more help than ever before to pay for the essentials this winter.”
About the Household Support Fund: Since December 2020 in response to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic the government has provided local authorities with funding to support vulnerable households with the costs associated with food, fuel and essential items.
Administered by the DWP, this funding was provided initially through the COVID Winter Grant Fund and then the COVID Local Support Grant until 30th September 2021. On 30th September the Government announced that a new Household Support Fund would be made available to local authorities in England to support those most in need this winter. Although similar to both the Winter and Local Support Grants, the HSF is a separate programme.
More information is available at www.leeds.gov.uk