Household Support Fund Grants
As part of the nationwide efforts to recover following the pandemic, Devon and District Councils have been provided with some funding from the Government's Household Support Fund (HSF).
Funding has been distributed to councils across England, who know their local areas best, to directly help those who need it most, including for example, through small grants to meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities.
More information about the fund and the national picture can be found in the Government Household Support Fund announcement.
What is the Household Support Fund?
We know that sudden unexpected costs can create real challenges for our residents who are experiencing financial hardship. The Household Support Fund is available to provide rapid short-term financial support to meet immediate needs and help those who are struggling to afford food, energy and water bills, and other related essentials this winter.
The scheme runs until 31 March 2022 and is designed to help ease financial pressure on residents with low incomes and to support those most in need this winter whilst the economy recovers.
Due to the limited funds available, the funding will prioritise items necessary for day to day living such as food and essential household items.
We recognise that we cannot predict every challenge that residents may face, so applications will be accepted for other essential types of support which cannot be budgeted for and which deliver on the aims of this scheme. These items will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Who is eligible?
The eligibility criteria balances supporting as many residents as possible while targeting the limited funds to support those who need help the most.
- Be over the age of 16; and
- Live in the district (as your main residence); and
- Be without sufficient resources to meet the immediate short-term needs of themselves or dependents.
What will not be awarded?
Not every application will be awarded. The scheme will not award:
- Mortgage support - however homeowners could still qualify for the other elements of the Fund (such as food, energy, water, essentials linked to energy and water and wider essentials). Where a homeowner is having difficulty with their mortgage payments, they should contact their lender as soon as possible to discuss their circumstances as lenders will have a set procedure to assist.
How will payments be made?
If you have been awarded a payment, payment will be provided in vouchers or pre-paid cards or direct supply of goods.
In certain circumstances a payment direct to the applicant's bank account can be made (this cannot be paid into a third-party account).
All awards from the fund will be made as quickly as possible to meet the agreed needs of the household. We also reserve the right to provide 'in-kind' support where this is appropriate. All awards from the fund will be made as quickly as possible.
How do I apply?
Applications may be made online or by telephone. Telephone support will be available for those who require assistance to complete the form. Applications can be made by the applicant or their appointee, carer, advocate or a third party acting on their behalf.
Applicants should contact our partner charity Encompass who will be the administrator for any applications. They can be contacted by Telephoning 01271-371499 or people can email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.
What information will I need to provide?
In order to make an assessment of the household needs and priorities, the Encompass will require you to provide some information. This may include details of who is living within the household, the household income, any savings held by household members, and of the circumstances and reasons that led to an application being made. They will also need some practical information, such as your National Insurance number and contact details.
The information provided on the application form may be sufficient to make an assessment, however in some instances further information may be necessary to support the application.
Once a completed application and the required supporting evidence is received, the details will be passed onto a trained advisor. The advisor will make a decision based on the information provided in the application form and any other information available to them. The advisor will also take into account all of the circumstances and reasons that led to an application being made.
In making a decision on whether to make an award from the scheme and the amount to be awarded the advisor will consider the eligibility criteria and prioritisation criteria, as well as the funds that are available at the time of application. Once they have assessed whether the application falls within the eligibility criteria, they will consider whether the applicant meets one or more of the prioritisation criteria.
Advisors will also consider all the information at their disposal to assess the risk faced by the applicant and the relative priority of their application including:
- Financial circumstances
- Access to other forms of financial support
- Circumstances and reasons for the claim
- Preventative measures taken by the applicant or partner
- Impact of making or not making of the award
- The budgetary situation of the fund
If the advisor feels that there are sufficient grounds for an award to be made based on priority and vulnerability they will then consider the amount of the award.
Calculating the amount of an award
As part of the application, you will be asked to give an indication of the support that is required. However, the assessing advisor will determine the amount of support based on local economic factors and arrangements in place with other agencies/retailers. It will not always be possible to provide the full amount due to the limited funds available.
Advising you of a decision
Once the advisor has made a decision on your application they will give you a written notice advising you:
- Whether an award has been made and the reason for the decision
- The intended use of the award
- The amount of the award
They will also let you know about other services in the council and the community which may be able to provide further support. They will also advise you as to how the award will be made.
How often can I apply?
Support will usually be provided from the fund once. In exceptional circumstances repeat applications will be considered on merit. In the case of repeat applications further work and referrals to other agencies will be discussed with the applicant and may be conditional on having further financial support (e.g. referrals to Citizens Advice)
Other information about the scheme
The Household Support Fund is a fixed amount of money made available to local authorities by the Department for Work and Pensions to be used to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills this winter. As funds are limited, the council will prioritise those households facing the greatest need. The scheme is due to run until 31 March 2022 but once all funds have been allocated, the fund will be closed. In order to maximise the support we and our partners can provide to all our residents we will always redirect residents to other forms of support where we feel this is more appropriate to support their needs.
In line with the principles of good administration, all applications will be treated fairly and consistently under the terms we have set out here. Applications will be processed in a timely manner.
We will monitor this scheme on an ongoing basis. We will regularly review the scheme to ensure that we are making the best use of the money we have available.
How will we use & share your information?
The Council and Encompass as administrators of the scheme will only collect data relevant to your Household Support Fund application. Your data will be held on a digital platform and will be protected using up-to-date technical and organisational security measures.
Your data will be used to:
- Determine your eligibility for the Household Support Fund
- Contact you about decisions or updates related to an application
- Issue the Household Support Fund payment to your nominated Bank or Building Society account where appropriate
Your personal data will not be kept longer than necessary (in line with existing retention schedules).
Information collected during the application process will be used to assess an applicants' claim. Information will be cross matched with other data held by the Council and third-party agencies e.g., Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for verification purposes.
The council may also share data with both internal and external organisations for the purposes of validating any applications you may make or have made for other council services such as housing applications or homeless applications.
In addition, we may also share your data within the organisation to support our efforts to redirect you to other support that may be available (for example our Discretionary Housing Payment Scheme, Council Tax Reduction Scheme).
We may also share your data within the organisation or with other Government agencies in order to prevent and/or detect potentially fraudulent activity. Subject to a legal gateway, your information may also be shared for the prevention of fraud and criminal activity with (list not exhaustive):
- The police
- Immigration Service, Absconder Services and/or UK Border Agency
- Health and social care organisations
- Other Local Authorities
The council is committed to tackling and preventing fraud in all its forms. If a claimant attempts to claim an award from the Household Support Fund by making a false declaration or providing false evidence or statements, they may have committed an offence under the Theft Act 1968. Where the Council suspects that fraud may have occurred, it will investigate the matter as appropriate, and this may lead to criminal proceedings.
Where can I get help with other costs that aren't included within the Fund?
The Department for Work and Pensions are responsible for providing a number of payments and advances for those who meet the eligibility criteria.
- Funeral Payments
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments
- Short-term Benefit Advances
- Budgeting Advances
For further information please speak to your local JobCentre Plus office.
What other support is available?
Further information on what financial support is available for individuals and families in Devon can be found at https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/support-for-people-and-families/
15 November 2021