Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham
The Mayor

Metro Mayors unite to call for extension of vital Household Support Fund in Spring Budget

Metro Mayors from across England have today united to call for an extension to the government’s Household Support Fund in the Spring Budget taking place on 6 March 2024.

In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson, and Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, have urged the government to renew the Household Support Fund which is due to end in March.

The letter outlines how vital the Fund has been in their regions, providing a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of people most in need through emergency hardship payments, boosting food bank supplies, supporting those fleeting domestic violence and emergency food vouchers.

At a time when families and individuals are still struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, by not extending the Household Support Fund the Mayors say it will lead to more hardship.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:

"The Household Support Fund has supported thousands of people in Greater Manchester struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“It has supported local authorities to extend free school meal provision during holiday periods for the most vulnerable children, created a network of warm spaces across the city-region during the winter months and supported some of our most vulnerable residents with rising fuel costs.

“The implications of withdrawing this grant will mean that thousands of residents in Greater Manchester will struggle to meet their most basic physical needs. We are united in urging the Government to reconsider ending this vitally important Household Support Fund.”

Text of letter sent to the Prime Minister and Chancellor

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Dear Prime Minister,

Cc: Chancellor, Secretary of State DWP

As the UK’s Metro Mayors, we are united in our support for the extension of the Household Support Fund beyond March 2024. There is strong evidence for its renewal as an essential source of welfare assistance for our most vulnerable communities and we would urge you to include it in the Spring Budget.

Across our regions, HSF has provided a vital lifeline to hundreds of thousands of those most in need. It has been used creatively by Local Authorities for emergency hardship payments, to boost food bank supplies, to support those fleeing domestic violence, to fund holiday activities and food vouchers for at risk young people.

With council funding in a precarious position, the HSF is an example of central and local government working together to target interventions to alleviate poverty and prevent further widening of the inequalities between the most and least deprived in our society.

But the circumstances of our most deprived communities have not suddenly improved. They still face the reality of inflated bills, alongside the end of the cost-of-living payment scheme in March, without any material decline in their costs of living. The schemes supported by HSF are heavily over-subscribed.

According to LGA research, over 80% of Local Authorities have seen hardship increase in their areas, and far too many will not be able to replace funding lost through HSF due to the severe financial strain they are already facing. This would be catastrophic for many people in our poorest communities who would slide further into poverty at the complete removal of support through HSF.

Our role as Metro Mayors is to boost economic growth in our regions, but we cannot do this to the best of our ability if households facing crises are challenged with financial emergency, homelessness or destitution without any support available.

Barnardo’s have estimated requests for crisis help with children’s beds has increased four-fold from 2018, because families cannot afford that ‘luxury’. That is a devastating indictment – a safe place for a child to sleep should not be considered a luxury for anyone in this country.

We recognise that HSF does not represent a sustainable long-term approach to supporting vulnerable individuals and tackling poverty. We would welcome further discussion as to the role that we can play in the long term to help achieve this goal. That task will become much more difficult if families across our regions do not have an emergency support net in the short term.

We urge you to take steps to avoid this cliff edge facing our communities and commit to the continuation of the Household Support Fund in the Spring Budget.

Kind Regards,

Oliver Coppard, Mayor of South Yorkshire

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of Liverpool City Region

Notes to editors


Relevant data

Local Government Association data 

More than 8 in 10 responding councils (84 per cent) said that financial hardship had increased in their area in the last 12 months.

Around three quarters of respondents (73 per cent) said that they expect financial hardship to increase in their area in the next 12 months, whilst just under a fifth of respondents (19 per cent) said they expect it to remain about the same.

Almost two thirds of respondents (62 per cent) said they could provide no additional discretionary funding to replace what is lost from the end of the Household Support Fund, whilst just under a fifth of respondents (17 per cent) said that alongside the fund ending, they would also be reducing their own local welfare discretionary funding due to financial pressures.

Around a fifth of responding councils (22 per cent) said they would have to make redundancies if the Household Support Fund were to end.

Barnardos data

In 2018/2019 there were 4,316 requests for beds and bedding for children - of which 2,294 were successful (53%).  

However, by 2022/23 this had risen to 17,534 applications, of which 7,227 were successful (41%). It means at least 10,000 children and families who asked for help providing beds and bedding for their children, were turned down.

On average, local authorities received 180 crisis requests for help with children’s beds and bedding in 2018-19. By 2022-23 this had risen to 450 requests, an increase of 270.

Article Published: 27/02/2024 15:28 PM