Decision details

Household Support Fund 4

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Committee considered a report on a Household Support Fund (HSF) grant of £2,261,298 that had been confirmed for Reading to provide cost of living support to households in the most need, particularly those who might not be eligible for other support recently made available.  Key requirements of the HSF4 process were summarised in Appendix 1 and details of the proposed application-based element of HSF4 were presented in Appendix 2.


The report explained that the grant was funded by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to help families and vulnerable individuals who struggled to pay for basic living costs, such as energy and water, food and housing costs.  The grant was to be used between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024 and DWP had stipulated grant conditions including that local authorities were expected to offer support throughout the duration of the Fund Period and must develop their delivery plans to reflect this.  A summary of the DWP conditions was set out in Appendix 1.


The report proposed that the use of the HSF grant over the coming year be focused on two key elements. The first was an application-based scheme that was agile and flexible enough to meet the specific needs of local people who were in need of cost-of-living support.  There were a wide range of people who needed such support, but that were difficult to specifically identify, and therefore provide a defined funding allocation.  The second element was automatic support through an allocation scheme to low-income households with children in receipt of Pupil Premium/Free School Meals and older people in receipt of Housing Benefit who did not receive the direct government support provided to recipients of other DWP benefits.


The report noted that the Council might make changes to the delivery of HSF4 during the year to respond to changes in demand from residents and to ensure that the delivery of HSF4 remained within the available funding, and approval was sought for a delegation to make changes to the scheme if required.  Due to HSF4 being delivered over a full year, in contrast to the six-month timescale of previous HSF rounds, the resources being utilised through the scheme were now more than £2,000,000 and had therefore been submitted to the Committee for approval.  To enable timely delivery of the scheme £499,500 of the funding had been drawn down under delegated authority, with £383,000 identified to begin the first payment of the allocation element of HSF4 to be made by July 2023, prioritising Pupil Premium families with children entitled to free school meals, and £116,500 of the funding allocated to cover the set-up and administration costs of the application-based element.  Following detailed data collection on the number of eligible households, the allocation to voucher payments had been increased to £400,000.


Resolved –


(1)       That the utilisation of the DWP Household Support Fund for 2023/24 to support Reading residents in the most need, as set out in the report, be agreed;


(2)       That the Executive Director of Resources, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, be authorised to make changes to the delivery of HSF4 to meet changes in demand and maintain compliance with the funding allocation requirements from DWP;


(3)       That the decision to utilise an element of the funding for staff resource and initial allocation payments, taken under officer delegation by the Assistant Director of Policy, Performance & Customer Service, be noted.

Publication date: 13/09/2023

Date of decision: 10/07/2023

Decided at meeting: 10/07/2023 - Policy Committee

Accompanying Documents: