Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To inform Cabinet of the new Household Support Fund announced by the government on 30th September 2021. Additionally, to request approval to accept Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s allocation of this funding and its use to provide help and support to children and young people for the October half-term week.
(The relevant Scrutiny Board Chairman’s permission was sought and given to allow this item to proceed despite not meeting the 28 days’ notice of a key decision.)
The Cabinet was:
Ø informed of the new Household Support Fund announced by the government on 30th September 2021; and
Ø invited approve acceptance of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s allocation of this funding and its use to provide help and support to children and young people for the October half-term week.
Members were advised that on 30th September the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a new Household Support Fund (HSF) to support vulnerable households and individuals across the country with essentials over the autumn and winter months as the country continued its recovery from the pandemic. From October 2021, the HSF would provide £500million to local authorities and the devolved administrations to bolster local help and support for households. The Councils allocation was £1.4m.
The holiday supermarket voucher scheme had been exceptionally effective in getting additional financial help to families, which could be seen in the high redemption rates of the vouchers. With the planning time available to the Council for October half-term there was not sufficient time to consider a viable alternative, which could work as well as or better than the existing scheme.
Given the need to manage public expectation concerning the additional help and support, the recommendation was to commit to an October half-term voucher scheme, but to review the offer for future holiday periods under the consideration of the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills.
Members very much welcomed the additional funding. Members noted the high redemption rate of the vouchers being used, but questioned why 18% had not been used. Officers advised that there was no pattern to non take up of vouchers, possible stigma could be a reason, but more will be done to promote the offer. It was recognised that to help plan for future years, the continuity of funding would be helpful and this point had been made. On the issue of whether vouchers were flexible enough to provide the support needed, Officers felt they were, and reminded Members that there were other avenues of support for things like fuel bills.
(i) That Council accepts its allocation funding from the Department for Work and Pension’s Household Support Fund. This is for the purposes of supporting vulnerable families and households with access to food, winter warmth, help and support with household fuel bills, as well as other household essentials during the Autumn and Winter;
(ii) That it be agreed that the Funding is used from the Household Support Fund to provide supermarket vouchers for children and young people who receive free school meals and early years pupil premium, during the October half-term week. This is with a value of £15 per child; and
(iii) That it be agreed to delegate authority to the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills to approve the funding of future provision of holiday support schemes and initiatives for children, young people and families, from the Household Support Fund.
Report author: Austin Rodriguez
Publication date: 15/10/2021
Date of decision: 14/10/2021
Decided at meeting: 14/10/2021 - Cabinet
Effective from: 23/10/2021