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Household Support Fund: Prestonians urged to apply for share of £753,000

Posted on - 30th August, 2023 - 1:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Candidates are battling for a seat at Preston Town Hall Pic: Tony Worrall
The city council has to distribute the money by next spring Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston residents who are struggling with their bills are being reminded that they can still apply for help with the cost of living.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Preston City Council has around three quarters of a million pounds left in its latest share of the government’s Household Support Fund (HSF), which has to be distributed by next spring.

The pot is intended to provide short-term help with the cost of essentials, including food, energy and water. Applications for white goods, furniture and flooring can also be considered at the discretion of the authority.

Read more: Preston City Council approves waiving rent arrears for three community groups

Preston’s allocation for the 2023/24 financial year totals £1.2m – and so far £467,000 has been dished out to 1,455 applicants, leaving £753,000 to be issued to those in need during the tougher winter months.

It comes amid a warning that some people may not feel the benefit of the forthcoming reduction in the energy price cap – because the flat-rate government grant of £400 that was paid to all households last year to help with rocketing gas and electricity bills is not being repeated.

However, the discretionary HSF – which is administered by local authorities like Preston – is continuing. Some of the poorest residents – along with pensioners and some disabled people – will also get additional, automatic government support.

In order to get help from the HSF, though, residents need to apply to the town hall for consideration. But there is concern that some Prestonians may be unaware that they could be entitled to the cash.

Cllr Martyn Rawlinson, deputy leader of Preston City Council, said: “Many families are still feeling the pinch of escalating energy, utility and food bills in the midst of the continuing cost of living crisis.

“That’s why this funding is so important and we need everyone across Preston who meets the criteria to apply for help under the Household Support Fund scheme.

“I’d urge you to pass this message to all your family and friends and let’s help as many people as possible who may still be struggling.”

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Payments will be made on a first-come-first-served basis and so all applications will be processed strictly in order of the date they were received – and only if all requested supporting documentation has been completed.

Awards will be made where there is no alternative means of meeting the need of the household making the application.

The scheme does not debts incurred by gambling nor the repayment of loans, credit cards, overdrafts or hire purchase agreements.

However, the HSF can assist with housing costs if all other options to obtain support have been exhausted, such as discretionary housing payments.

To apply to the fund in Preston, completely the form that can be found at: preston.gov.uk/householdsupportform

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A special committee set by Preston City Council late last year to explore the impact of the cost-of-living crisis recently recommended that the authority work with the voluntary sector to identify people who may need help from the HSF.

The task group – whose recommendations were all adopted by the city council’s cabinet earlier this month – also suggested including more prominent messages about the fund on council tax bills and reminder notices.

During the last round of HSF funding – covering the period between 1st October, 2022 and 31st March this year – Preston City Council distributed £677,666 to residents in need.

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

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