Cost of living payments up to £550 on offer as DWP sends out £421m boost

Shoppers in the centre of Birmingham near the Bullring
-Credit: (Image: Nick Wilkinson/Birmingham Live)

Cost of living payments of up to £550 are being made to individuals and families by local authorities this summer. Although direct payments from the Department for Work and Pensions have finished, it has allocated a total of £421 million to councils across England so they can carry on providing financial assistance to hard-hit households.

The Household Support Fund has been extended to the end of September. The DWP has provided guidance on where the cash could be spent, including the recipients of Universal Credit who have limited capability for work or earnings below the free school meals and free prescription thresholds.

Others who get income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit or Pension Credit may also qualify for help although the DWP says assistance should not be limited to vulnerable households in receipt of benefits. It is asking councils to get referrals from social workers, housing support officers and health visitors to identify others in urgent need.


The Department for Work and Pensions says the fund is provided so that local authorities in England can support households who are struggling to buy food, pay essential utility bills, or meet other essential living or housing costs.

With grants of up to £550 available in some parts of the UK, people can receive financial help to cover food, gas, electricity, and water, and essentials linked to heating and water requirements such as warm clothing and boiler repairs. Some schemes are providing automatic cash payments into bank accounts, while others require an application or an initial assessment of eligibility.

Cash can also be given to cover emergency housing costs, where existing council schemes have no funds left, but mortgage costs are not included. In that case, you'd need to see if you can get help from the Government's separate Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme.

Each household is usually limited to one amount of cash support. People asking for help should be prepared to provide detailed information about their circumstances, including supporting documents such as bank statements to prove an urgent financial need. Applications are usually processed within 7-10 working days.

New Household Support Fund cost of living payments for 2024

This is a rundown of the main cost of living payments, vouchers, and other help available in the West Midlands from cash allocated to councils via the DWP's Household Support Fund.

Birmingham: The city council has received almost £12.8 million and has approved the handing out of £200 payments via Birmingham Voluntary Service Council to help households experiencing financial hardship with food and energy. The council has also been sending out £50 vouchers to 35,000 low-income pension-age households in receipt of Council Tax Support.

Coventry: Payments of £140 for families and £120 for single people or childless couples are being given out from the £3.2 million handed to Coventry City Council.

Solihull: The council received £1.4 million in Household Support Fund cash but does not offer direct payments. It says essential items can be provided for people in urgent need via its discretionary crisis fund and emergency food parcels are available through referrals to the Solihull Food Banks Network.

Walsall: An allocation of £2.8 million is being used to make one-off direct payments of £75 per child at the end of July 2024 if you receive Council Tax Reduction and have dependent children living with you.

Wolverhampton: Couples can get £50 towards food and £60 towards energy, single adults can get £25 towards food and £40 towards energy, and £15 extra can be awarded for each child in the household. The council received an allocation of £2.6 million.

Dudley: Another application scheme will soon be available at the council, which has received £2.6 million and is set to issue a new update on how it is distributing the latest stage of its Household Support Fund allocation.

Sandwell: An allocation of £3.47 million for the council's Household Support Fund is being used for automatic payments to eligible households through several different schemes supporting tenants, care leavers, foster carers and people struggling with their council tax bills. Summer holiday food vouchers will also be handed out. In addition, residents in exceptional financial hardship can apply for crisis payments from £250,000 that's been set aside for Local Welfare Provision scheme.

Shropshire: The council has been handed just over £2 million and is making a £400 payment to 3,000 households on low incomes who receive Council Tax Support and have a dependant child resident in the property.

Bromsgrove and Redditch: Funding for Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council is being distributed by Citizens Advice, which is giving vouchers to low-income, vulnerable households including £200 to single people, £250 to couples, £350 to families, and an additional £100 to households with a pensioner and/or disability.

Staffordshire: The council has been allocated £5.5 million which has been divided up for various schemes including £40 supermarket vouchers for children over the summer holidays, £65 supermarket vouchers for care leavers, and cash for low-income families referred by professionals including a £65 supermarket voucher per household and an additional £20 for each child or disabled person they care for. Emergency payments of varying amounts are also available for immediate needs.

Check with your local authority to find out what exactly you may be eligible to receive. Each council has devised different ways of using its allocation and so the available help and qualifying criteria will vary.

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