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Household Support Fund - April 2023 - 31 March 2024

As part of a number of measures to provide help with global inflationary challenges and the significantly rising cost of living, the Government has announced that the Household Support Fund (HSF) would be available for a fourth round between April 2023 and 31 March 2024. As has been done for previous schemes, the fund will be made available to County Councils and Unitary Authorities in England to support those most in need.

Ashford Borough Council has received funding from Kent County Council (KCC) and is working to develop a number of schemes which will support those households who are most in need of help between now and 31 March 2024.  

What are we doing with our funding?

Energy and Water Support

As with our last round of Household Support funding we are going to support those households that have not been eligible for the Cost of Living payments from Government, those that are in receipt of Housing Benefit but not one of the qualifying legacy benefits.  All such households who are eligible for this support will be written to advising of how and when payments will be made to them. This correspondence will be sent out from Ashford Borough Council in early September 2023, it will confirm the amount of money that will be available and how and when it will be paid to households.  Please see the FAQ's for relevant questions regarding this scheme.

Off Grid Heating and Hot Water 

In recognition that many residents of our Borough are not connected to mains gas and rely upon 'off grid' heating and hot water supply we are developing a scheme to offer energy support to low income households in this situation.  Examples of 'off grid' heating and hot water supply are domestic oil heating and LPG. Our scheme will be application based and will provide a one off payment towards the cost of your supply ahead of the winter months.  We hope to have to this scheme open between 1 August 2023 and 31 October 2023, if the funding for this scheme is committed and spent ahead of 31 October 2023 it will close at that point. This website page will be updated as this scheme develops.   

Food - People's Pantry

Another Household Support Fund scheme we are running is working with the People's Pantry, which is part of the Repton Community Trust to support residents across the borough with regards to access to food.

If residents are in need of support or access to food during this cost of living crisis then please contact the People'sPeople's Pantry located at Repton Community Centre in Ashford Pantry directly. They have been provided with a sum of grant funding from our allocation and this will be used by them to support as many households as possible. This will include households who are single, couples, with children, disabled or of pension age.  

The People's Pantry is a community shop based at the Repton Community Centre (TN23 3RX). Their aim is to provide a community led service to reduce food insecurity and food waste in Ashford.

Their team are able to make deliveries in emergencies to vulnerable people, whilst they also have a food locker facility available 24 hours of the day to ensure that essentials such as food, hygiene, cleaning products and blankets are always accessible.

More details about who the People's Pantry are and their open hours and support can be found on the People's Pantry website or via the People's Pantry Facebook page.

For information regarding other food banks in the borough, please visit our food bank web page.

Please be aware that we will not provide any applicant through any of our schemes with a cash award.  Assistance will be via a third party Organisation, a voucher or a payment direct to a verified bank account.

Summer Voucher Scheme

Kent County Council is providing additional cost of living support via a summer voucher scheme, funded by the Government. You can either refer yourself to the scheme or refer someone else before the application deadline of Thursday 14 September 2023. For full details and eligibility visit KCC’s web page.

Kent County Council also has a Cost of Living support hub which provides information on additional support available for households during this difficult period.

Preventing Fraud

It is very important that we make sure that all applications to our schemes are made legitimately. Please note that if you falsely declare your circumstances, provide a false statement or provide false evidence in support of your application, you may have committed an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. Ashford Borough Council has a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and financial irregularity and any suspicions of fraud relating to this scheme will be referred to the appropriate partnership organisations.

Each of our schemes is subject to review and availability of funding, any or all of the schemes will close on or before the 31 March 2024, this is in line with Government guidance about the allocation of the funding.

Frequently Asked Questions

+ How do I apply for support?

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit, but not one of the qualifying legacy benefits, then we will contact you direct, in writing, about how you will receive your payment of £200 to help support with energy and water support. Letters will come from Ashford Borough Council on our headed paper and will provide all the instructions about what information we may need from you to make the payment ahead of the winter.

For ‘off grid’ applicants, when the scheme goes live, you will be asked to complete an application form and to provide any listed supporting information. Applications will be processed as quickly as possible but please refer to the information in the main body of text about any updates on this scheme and timeframes for support to be provided. The financial support will be a one off payment per household and will be £150.00 per application.

If you are requiring support in relation to food, then you can self-refer using the contact details for the People’s Pantry, they will help and support you on our behalf.

+ What will we award?

Awards from the fund for the Housing Benefit Claimants for energy and water will be fixed at £200 per Housing Benefit household. Awards for the ‘off grid’ for energy will be fixed at £150.00 per application.

+ What will happen if my bank account is overdrawn? Does this mean I can’t access the money?

The First Right of Appropriation means that when you pay money into your account, you have the right to tell the bank how you want that money to be used. Therefore you must inform the bank (as soon as you find out your application was successful) how you want the money to be used at the time of payment.

+ When will the funding schemes close?

The Household Support Fund has been allocated to the authority via Kent County Council from Central Government. How the funding is utilised is at our discretion but in line with the guidance set out by Central Government, with funding to be committed and spent between 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. Our schemes, as administered by us locally, will run to the timeframes indicated, but are subject to change depending on the demand and whether the funding is committed and spent ahead of 31 March 2024.