Significant pressures remain for many households across Bristol, in particular our city’s most vulnerable residents and families, with no sign of the national cost of living crisis slowing down or coming to an end. The support from national government has been lacking but we’ve worked hard to target supported funding that we have received to help those most in need. Our Household Support Fund has been instrumental in Bristol’s response to the national cost of living crisis, so we welcomed the news that we were receiving an additional £8 million for this financial year.
There are many people who fall through the gaps and are unfortunately not eligible. We used some of the money last year to top up our £1.4 million Local Crisis Prevention Fund, enabling us to provide around 10,000 households with emergency payments. Over 2,600 of these were through our Household Support Fund. Additional help included in the Mayor’s budget provides support to almost 33,000 households with up to 100 per cent off their council tax bills through our £41.3 million Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The spend for this year’s Household Support Fund has been approved by Cabinet to provide:
• Free School Meal Vouchers to approximately 22,600 young people for all school holidays from May 2023 half term to February 2024 half term
• Targeted support to those with No Resource to Public Funds (including Refugee and Asylum Seeker households known directly to us)
• Targeted support to care leavers and foster households to assist with their food and heating costs
• Support for 1,100 low-income households via Discretionary Housing Payments
• Help to around 4,000 low-income households in need through the Local Crisis Prevention Fund who are not eligible for the other payments outlined above
Similar to last year, money is also being allocated to some local support organisations, including Bristol Age UK, Feeding Bristol, Centre for Sustainable Energy and WECIL to help them to continue to provide essential support.
Earlier this year, the government provided us with funding to assist around 13,500 households already receiving partial Council Tax Reduction, allowing us to deduct up to £75 from their remaining council tax bills. This new allocation for the Household Support Fund will enable us to extend this offer for pensioners with up to an additional £25 being taken off remaining bills.
There is no application process for our Household Support Fund and we, or one of the associated charities also distributing funds, will contact people directly if they’re eligible. If you are not eligible and need financial support there is other help available. For cost of living advice and signposting please visit bristol.gov.uk/costofliving or call the We Are Bristol helpline for free on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.