Cost of Living Crisis: Lambeth urges government to come clean over “lifeline” funding for vulnerable residents

7 December 2023

Written by: Lambeth Council

Better and Fairer Lambeth - Campaigns - Council statements and updates - News and announcements - Post Type - Spending and transparency

Lambeth has called for on the government to keep in place “lifeline” funding for thousands of people struggling with the cost of living crisis, amid increasing uncertainty over its future.

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Cost of Living Crisis: Lambeth urges government to come clean over “lifeline” funding for vulnerable residents

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt appeared to confirm that the Household Support Fund (HSF) would be extended into next year, following his Autumn Statement last week. However, Treasury officials have since indicated that the fund, which helps families pay for essentials including food and energy and water bills, would end next April.

Cllr David Amos, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Cost of Living, is now urging Mr Hunt to come clean about how much support councils will receive to distribute to vulnerable residents next year.

In a letter to the Chancellor, Cllr Amos said the HSF had been vital in helping Lambeth residents over recent years – including through targeting financial support to those most in need, helping the local voluntary sector meet increased costs and demand, and providing additional support for households with children in receipt of free school meals (FSM) during the holidays.

He said: “The HSF has been a lifeline for our lowest income residents throughout the cost of living crisis. In Lambeth, we have supplemented this funding with the council’s own, to create an expanded, £10 million package of help for residents struggling with the crisis this year.

“The HSF remains crucial to our work maximising the support available to some of our most vulnerable residents – including through extending FSM entitlement, increasing direct payments to financially precarious households, expanding our Emergency Support Scheme for those in crisis, supporting council tenants impacted by increases in energy and hot water costs, and providing extra free childcare for low-income families.”

However, with food inflation still in double figures, gas prices 60% higher and electricity prices 40% higher than they were two years ago, Cllr Amos warned that the cost of living crisis “will remain very real for our lowest income residents in 2024/25 and beyond”.

He added: “We urge you to meet your commitment in Parliament and provide councils with early notice of the value of HSF the government will provide in 2024/25.

“This will enable the council to undertake the necessary service and financial planning for how it will continue to provide the much-needed support for our lowest income residents as the real-terms squeeze on their finances – and the council’s – continues in 2024/25.”

Lambeth Council HSF letter