A NEW support fund has opened to assist Leicester residents who are on a low income and in need of help this winter.
Leicester City Council has been given £3.4million from the Department for Work & Pensions to set up a Household Support Fund, which will help vulnerable people and families to pay their bills.
From today (19 November), people will be able to apply to the fund online through the council’s website. They will be able to ask for help with fuel, food and water bills.
Staff from Citizens Advice Leicestershire and professionals such as social workers, healthcare workers and housing advisors will also be able to refer people to the fund. As well as asking for help with fuel or food bills, other agencies will be able to refer people who might need help to buy items such as white goods, clothing or bedding, or who have long-standing debts with utility companies.
You don’t need to be on benefits to apply to the fund – you just need to be on a low income (less than £356.25 per week) and struggling to make ends meet.
At least half of the funding will go to families with children, complementing funding for the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which was used to provide food vouchers for children on free school meals over the recent half-term, and will be used to provide support again over the Christmas holidays and February half-term.
The Household Support Fund will run for four months, throughout the winter months, although it’s a limited fund, so it could close sooner, depending on how many applications are received. The city council is currently planning to close the fund for applications on 14 March 2022, with awards being paid out up to 31 March 2022.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve provided support for those who need it. We delivered food boxes at the height of the lockdown, and we have run programmes to ensure 16,000 children from low-income families don’t go hungry in the school holidays. We welcome the chance to continue offering this support, which we know can be a vital lifeline.
“As winter approaches, we know that there will be families and individuals who are worried about paying their fuel bills and making ends meet, particularly with the recent rises in fuel prices. Using our local knowledge and the expertise that has served us so well during the pandemic, we will target support towards those who need it most, ensuring that this fund is used to help our most vulnerable residents. No-one should have to choose between heating and eating.”
The Household Support Fund is part of a national scheme, which will see councils up and down the country and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland share out £500m of Government cash.
It is estimated that around 26,000 households in Leicester will face fuel poverty this winter.
To apply online, fill in the form at www.leicester.gov.uk/householdsupportfund. Anyone who struggles to apply online should contact email@example.com or speak to their local Citizens Advice LeicesterShire for help applying.
People with a council support worker can ask them to make an application on their behalf.