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As part of the council’s drive to keep everyone Warm and Well this winter, we’re marking Household Support Fund Awareness Week by rounding up the ways the authority uses the funding to support residents. Helping all residents with the cost-of-living crisis is a key priority for the council this winter, as part of the ‘Look after your home’ element of the One Stockport Warm and Well initiative, supported by Stockport Council.
Councillor Jilly Julian, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, commented: “We are absolutely committed to helping as many residents as possible navigate the current cost-of-living crisis, as we know many people, from all different backgrounds, are affected. We work hard to ensure that our support offer reaches as many residents as possible, so whether you receive Family Support Vouchers, attend events or activities hosted by our VCFSE partners or engage with one of our trusted partners to access financial or mental health help, the chances are you’re engaging with a council-backed programme.”
So, how do we put the Household Support Fund to use?
Family Support Vouchers
If your child is in receipt of income-based free school meals, or the early years equivalent, or your family receives Council Tax Support or Housing Benefit, you should have received a Family Support Voucher which can be exchanged for cash to support your households bills. The most recent vouchers were distributed in July 2023 and were worth £97.50, with a second round of vouchers to be distributed to eligible families in December.
Extending the Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme
The council has decided to allocate some of the DWP’s Household Support Funding to extend its HAF programme. The programme runs nationally during the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday, but in Stockport the council has extended the programme to cover the October, February and May half terms.
This allows hundreds of children whose families are in receipt of free school meals to access free childcare places, complete with a nutritious lunchtime meal, throughout the school holidays.
Find out more about the HAF programme.
Parents have attested the benefits of the HAF programme, with one parent commenting: “This was a fantastic opportunity for my two children, both with Autism Spectrum Disorder: they had the best day ever!”
Parents also described how they were able to continue working over the half term breaks due to the HAF programme extension.
We know that Stockport’s VCFSE groups are some of the best around, and that’s why the council wanted to support the sector with the Household Support Fund. Through our Spend Well, Live Well grants the council have funded 41 VCFSE organisations to help them continue to deliver vital services to help residents struggling with the cost-of-living. Organisations will use the funding to deliver exciting activities ranging from cooking clubs, employment support, benefit assessments and even a social supermarket.
As a resident, if you engage with a VCFSE organisation and their cost-of-living support, it’s likely that this has been in-part funded by the Household Support Fund.
Warm spaces funding
The warm spaces scheme is back for this winter, as part of the One Stockport Warm and Well initiative. Funding for organisations to open or improve their building as a warm space is now open, and this is funded through the Household Support Fund. Drop into your local warm space this winter to enjoy a free space to spend time, with community activities and free hot drinks on offer at many of the locations.
Working with our trusted partners
Partnership working is at the heart of our vision at Stockport Council. One of the key streams of work under the Household Support Fund is working alongside our trusted partners and allowing them the funding to support identified individuals who might need a bit of extra support. We work with organisations like Age UK Stockport, Disability Stockport and Signpost for Carers to provide funding that means that individuals who need it most can access support with the cost-of-living crisis.
Are you struggling with the cost-of-living and need a bit of extra help? In the first instance, call our cost-of-living helpline on 0161 474 2140. Lines are open Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 4pm. You’ll get through to our specialist Resident Advice and Support (RAS) team, who can help to triage you and signpost you to the right support, whether that’s through a council scheme or via our trusted partners or the VCFSE sector.
They can also help with benefits advice, and signpost you to national schemes to help with financial uncertainty.
Remember, you can also visit the cost of living online hub which rounds up all of the support available.