Birmingham's political leaders urge government to continue 'vital lifeline' for city’s most vulnerable

A letter has been written to chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of the Spring Statement
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Birmingham’s political leaders have urged the government to continue a “vital lifeline” for the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Those leading Birmingham City Council (BCC) have written to chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of the Spring Statement to request that the Household Support Fund is continued into the next financial year.

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The fund, which was set up in 2021 to help households with the cost-of-living, sees the Department for Work and Pensions distribute funding to local councils, who then work with partners to distribute the funds to households who are in most need of essentials such as food and energy.

As part of the fund, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council has distributed grants of up to £200 to Birmingham homes facing financial hardship. The council has also sent letters to 35,000 ‘low income pension age’ households, in receipt of Council Tax Support, with a £50 cash pay-out voucher.

Councillor John Cotton, leader of Birmingham City Council, said “Birmingham has the highest child poverty rates in England, and high levels of unemployment, and so our families are being hit hard by the cost-of-living emergency.

“Without the Household Support Fund, many more families would have been plunged into crisis.”

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Cllr Sharon Thompson, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “We are urging the Chancellor to maintain the Household Support Fund into next year. As a Council, we have stepped up to provide cost-of-living support for thousands of residents, including supporting 169 food banks and hosting over 60,000 people across our network of 300 Warm Welcome Spaces.

“We need the government to act to continue the vital lifeline that the Household Support Fund has become.”

In response to such calls, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We have invested over £2 billion in the Household Support Fund over the last two years – with almost £800 million already paid to families with children to help with the cost of living.

“The current Fund is available up until March 2024 as part of wider cost of living support worth on average £3,700 per household, including raising benefits by 6.7 per cent from April and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.”

Birmingham City Council houseBirmingham City Council house
Birmingham City Council house
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This news comes as Birmingham City Council released figures demonstrating the level of Council Tax Support that it provides across the city for families. Out of the 461,000 households in Birmingham, 115,000 of these receive Council Tax Support while 75,000 pay no Council Tax at all.

With over £115 million of Council Tax Support being given out by the council each year, Cllr Cotton has vowed that the scheme will continue despite the authority’s financial crisis.

He said: “Birmingham City Council faces a series of tough financial challenges, and we have been left with no choice but to request to increase council tax above the 5 per cent threshold. We will be continuing our generous council tax support scheme so that hard-pressed families across Birmingham receive the help that they need.”

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