London skyline with the Palace of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament building including the Elizabeth Tower

Household Support Fund extended

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today announced that the Household Support Fund will be extended, following calls from across the local government sector.

Funded by a further £500 million of investment from the government, the HSF will continue for another six months until September, with pressure increasing from local government leaders since the Autumn Statement in November. Only yesterday, Public Sector Executive reported that more than 170 council leaders came together to urge further support for authorities from the Chancellor.

Discussing the importance of the Household Support Fund, Deputy Chair of London Councils Cllr Claire Holland said:

“Extending the Household Support Fund is a top priority. The life-changing impact of the fund is clear – but if the government brings this to an end there is no alternative funding stream.”

As he announced the extension of the HSF, the Chancellor commented:

“Having listened carefully to representations from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Trussell Trust and the Hon Members for East Ham, Colchester, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner and Suffolk Coastal among others, I have decided that – with the battle against inflation still not over – now is not the time to stop the targeted help it offers.

“We will therefore continue it at current levels for another six months.”

As financial pressures continue to mount on public services, leaders and organisations across the sector have urged the Chancellor to increase investment and commit to long-term funding. Unfortunately, this did not come in the Budget, with Hunt choosing instead to focus on making the sector more productive.

Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit, Dr Jonathan Carr-West, commented on this announcement, saying:

“Local government was not entirely absent from today’s Budget. Headline announcements included a trailblazer devolution deal for the North East, devolution deals for Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Surrey, new Investment Zones and a series of funding deals to support housing. These will no doubt be welcome in those areas that receive them, but the Chancellor did not address the systemic funding issues in local government.

“Our latest research found half of councils believe they could face bankruptcy within the next parliament. Council taxpayers are paying ever higher rates for fewer services, and leisure centres, SEND provision and adult social care funding are all facing deep cuts…”

spring budget quote

HM Treasury anticipates improvements in productivity within the public sector to deliver £1.8 billion of benefits. Expanding on why he took the decision not to increase funding for the public sector, Hunt claimed:

“It is not fair to ask people to pay more when public sector productivity is falling.”

Whilst an extension to the HSF will be welcomed, long-term funding is what the public sector so strongly desires. A shorter boost for councils may, however, not be much of a surprise considering 2024 is an election year – with every chance being that the ruling party now is completely different to the one being urged to extend the HSF even more in the Autumn.


Image credit: iStock


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