Am I eligible for new cost of living payment?

Jeremy Hunt has extended the household support fund to help people struggling with their finances

London, England, UK. 24th Mar, 2024. Chancellor of the Exchequer JEREMY HUNT is seen in Westminster as he appears on Sunday political shows. (Credit Image: © Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE! Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Live News
Jeremy Hunt announced an extension of the Household Support Fund, accepting that the battle against inflation still hadn't been won. (Alamy)

A six-month extension to a cost of living payment began on Monday as families across the UK continue to struggle with bills, food prices and energy costs.

Jeremy Hunt announced the extension to the household support fund in his spring budget, following pressure from anti-poverty campaign groups. The scheme was due to finish on 31 March, but the chancellor accepted that the "battle against inflation still not over" and that it was not the right time to "stop the targeted help" the support payment offers.

The six-month extension is expected to cost the government an extra £500m, which will be used by local authorities to support vulnerable households. It comes among a series of other measures that began on 1 April, including increases in the national living wage, local housing allowance, and an expansion of government-funded childcare.

Hailing the success of the household support fund, work and pensions secretary Mel Stride said: “We’ve protected vulnerable people from cost of living pressures with the biggest support package in Europe, preventing 1.3 million people falling into poverty."

Read more: Martin Lewis calls out 'wins and fiction' in Jeremy Hunt's budget (Yahoo News)

Close-up view on electrometer measuring electricity consumption. 3D rendered illustration.
The Household Support Fund is intended to help low-income households with things such as energy bills. (Getty)

What is the household support fund?

The HSF was started in 2021 and is intended to help low-income households – such as pensioners, unpaid carers, families, care leavers and disabled people. Those who face financial hardships can use the fund to help with essential household costs.

So far, the HSF has provided around £2.5bn of welfare support via local authorities to help residents in their area. The fund helps with things like food, water and energy bills.

Anyone struggling can access the support via their county council or an organisation that the council works with. This varies area by area.

The money is provided to the council by the government. Crucially, anyone who receives funding does not have to pay the money back.

Read more: Household support fund kept me afloat, says former nurse (PA Media)

Local councils will contain details of how to apply for the Household Support Fund on their websites. (Essex County Council)
Local councils will contain details about how to apply for the Household Support Fund on their websites. (Essex County Council)

How to apply

You need to apply for the HSF directly from your local county council. Links to online application forms are on council websites.

Anyone can apply but applicants must provide evidence of eligibility as part of the application process. This can be three months of bank statements showing your (and your partner’s, if applicable) income – or payslips that show your collective income. Councils will accept screenshots or photos as long as they are able to be read easily.

You do not have to be in receipt of benefits to be eligible and your benefits won’t be affected by any payment from the fund. However, eligibility may differ slightly from council to council, while payments may share money through local charities and support groups.

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