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Household Support Fund Policy

April 2023 to March 2024

This policy sets out how the Council will design a scheme of financial assistance using money made available this summer to all County Councils and Unitary Authorities by the UK government for the period from 1 April 2024 to 30 September 2024.

We can make a maximum of one award per household during April-September 2024.

In producing this policy, the Council has had regard to the Final Guidance issued to Councils by the Department for Work and Pensions and its own existing Welfare Support Policy.

The facility to have cash payments as part of a welfare scheme such as this is set out in the 3 quotes below from the Local Government Association’s “Good Practice Guide: Delivering financial hardship support schemes”: Report - LGA (

“Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS) represent a vital mechanism for councils to support low-income households in times of financial crisis. They can provide a rapid, dignified and efficient means of supporting the most vulnerable, reducing the likelihood that people will be unable to heat their home, become at risk of homelessness, or need to turn to a food bank to get their next meal. This is absolutely vital, as we know that even a short-term financial crisis can have a profound impact on those living in a household experiencing it.”


(The Children’s Society)

“The COVID-19 crisis has exposed just how vulnerable any family is to income shocks and job losses. Local welfare assistance schemes play a key role in supporting families who risk slipping into crisis and destitution, and work best when they provide direct cash payments.”


(Child Poverty Action Group)

“We support the LGA’s suggestions for a more flexible, cash-first approach as a lifeline to keep people in financial crisis afloat.”


(The Trussell Trust)


  1. Aims and Objectives
  2. Eligibility Criteria
  3. How to apply
  4. Information/Evidence
  5. Decisions/Methods of award
  6. Fraud/Data Sharing
  7. Appeals/reviews
  8. Policy Review

1. Aims and Objectives

The policy sets out how Torbay Council will deliver assistance to residents via the Household Support Fund.

There is a limited budget available, and this scheme will close when funding is no longer available.

Key policy aim:

  • To provide financial support to people who require help with food and/or fuel during the current cost of living crisis

Where practicable, we will also encourage engagement with wider support services to help residents tackle deep-rooted issues and address their longer-term needs by offering access to advice and helping people to move toward greater financial stability.

Needs we can assist with are

Fuel and/or food & other essentials

  • A one-off payment of £100.00 to people who are entitled to a means-tested welfare benefit (including Pension Credit) or tax credit, and who either have children living with them for which they are responsible and receive child benefit, or who receive a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Attendance Allowance)
  • For people not in receipt of a means-tested welfare benefit/tax credit who either have children living with them for which they are responsible and receive child benefit, or who receive a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Attendance Allowance) we will make a one of payment if their disposable income after essential expenditure is less than £50.00 per week.

These payments will be based on the size of the household:

Adult only household – payment of £250

Household with children (up to 4 people) payment of £350

Large Household with children (5+ people) payments of £500


  • Where practicable, signposting to essential advice and support services

The Household Support fund will be administered as part of a wider system of help and support which includes Discretionary Housing Payments, Welfare Support and discretionary Council Tax reductions and will contribute to common aims, namely:

  • alleviating poverty
  • encouraging and sustaining people in employment
  • helping claimants through personal crisis and difficult events
  • tenancy sustainment and homelessness prevention
  • safeguarding residents in their own homes
  • helping those who are trying to help themselves
  • keeping families together
  • helping to provide stability to children
  • preventing homelessness for those at risk of losing their home
  • supporting domestic violence victims who are trying to move to a place of safety
  • supporting the vulnerable or the elderly in the local community
  • promoting good educational outcomes for children and young people
  • supporting the work of foster carers
  • supporting careleavers

supporting disabled people to remain in adapted properties

2. Eligibility Criteria

  • Either: entitlement to a means-tested welfare benefit (including Pension Credit) or Tax Credit, who either have children living with them for which they are responsible and receive child benefit, or receive a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Attendance Allowance, or
  • Single people or couples with disposable income after essential expenditure of less than £50 per week who either have children living with them for which they are responsible and receive child benefit, or receive a disability benefit (Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments or Attendance Allowance

Where practicable, If the applicant has not applied for an income related benefit or Council Tax Support they will be provided with, or signposted to, advice about their potential entitlements and how to claim.

3. How to apply

Working Age Applicants will normally be expected to:

  • complete an online application form
  • or a paper form
  • we can accept applications from third parties (e.g., Citizens Advice) on residents’ behalf, and where practicable we can complete applications over the phone.

4. Information/Evidence

Normally we will be able to verify entitlement to means-tested welfare benefits and tax credits so it would be unusual for us to have to request further information if a fully completed claim form is received.

Applications from households not receiving a means-tested welfare benefit – one month’s bank statements for all accounts must be supplied to support the application. Where this information is not supplied, applications will not be considered.

5. Decisions

The Council will be under no duty to assess applications not made in the approved manner. Where information or evidence requested has not been received within a reasonable timeframe, the application may be treated as withdrawn.

We will normally notify the decision via email, but letters can also be sent and where there is no alternative (perhaps because of street homelessness) we can call people to give details of awards.

Method of award

All awards will be made by a BACs payment to the applicant’s nominated bank account

6. Fraud/Data Matching


As part of the claim process, claimants need to sign a declaration that the information they are supplying is accurate.

We are committed to the fight against fraud because we have a duty to protect public funds and make sure they go to people who need them. The Council is committed to protect public funds and ensure funds are paid to the people who are rightfully eligible to them.

An applicant for Household Support who falsely declares their circumstances provides a false statement or evidence in support of their application may have committed an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.

Where the Council suspects that such an offence may have been committed, this matter will be investigated as appropriate and may lead to criminal proceedings being instigated. We may also exclude applicants from making further claims for at least 6 months.

Data Matching

The Council may use any evidence and information supplied to it when applying for Household Support to check the eligibility of the applicant in respect of this scheme or any other welfare benefit, discounts or exemptions.

The Council takes part in data matching exercises to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud.  Data matching involves comparing sets of our data, such as Council Tax or benefit records against other records held by the Council or other bodies to see how far they match.  Data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims, reductions and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there is an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out. 

Payments made under the Household Support Fund are not normally repayable however we may recover the value of any award if we decide that the award has been made as a result of misrepresentation of, or failure to disclose, a material fact, either fraudulently or otherwise.

7. Appeals/Reviews

The scheme will be operated using the eligibility criteria set out above in Section 2. There is no statutory right to an appeal or review.  However, the decision to award assistance through the fund can be reviewed following a written/emailed request for such a review.  Where practicable this will be undertaken by a senior officer not involved in the original decision and this decision will be final and no further right of appeal or review is allowed (this does not exclude applicants from using the Council’s corporate complaints procedure, although a complaint will not normally be allowed until a review has been conducted).

8. Policy Review

This policy will be published and available to view on the Council’s website. Because this phase of the Housing Support Fund will end at the end of September 2024 it is not likely that it will be reviewed unless this should prove necessary to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

This policy version was produced 28/05/2024.