Decision details

Household Support Fund (HSF)

Decision Maker: Group Director of Operations

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Government recently announced that a new Household Support Fund (HSF) grant will be made available to County Councils and Unitary Authorities in England to support those most in need this winter. This new grant will run from 6 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 and Darlington’s allocation is £913,854.

The HSF should primarily be used to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills. It can also be used to support households with essential costs related to those items and with wider essential costs.

At least 50% of the funding must be for vulnerable households with children. Funds should be spent or committed before 31 March 2022 and cannot be held over for future usage. Councils can request applications for support or they can proactively identify households who may benefit or can take a mixture of the two approaches. There is no requirement for Councils to undertake a means test or conduct a benefit check unless this specifically forms part of a local eligibility criteria.

Implementation Date
6 October 2021 to 31 March 2022


The Winter Food Support scheme (run in 2020-21) is considered the most effective and efficient way to distribute the majority of the HSF. It is an established and effective system which directly helps approx. 4,100 children and their families most in need with minimal administration costs. It was therefore decided:
To issue a £20 voucher per child to all qualifying households over the October half-term.
Increase the voucher amount to £30 per child per week for the remaining school holidays (Christmas, February half-term and Easter).
In line with the previous Winter Grant funding scheme, it was decided to continue with the Care leaver vouchers at £150 per qualifying care leaver.
The Bread and Butter Thing (TBBT) to run a scheme to register more people with TBBT. A ‘come and try us’ campaign is to be run to offer up to 900 new TBBT members a free food bag worth £7.50.

TBBT to provide free food bags for those most in need struggling to meet the cost. This will run over a 13 week period, providing free food bags to approx. 240 recipients.
TBBT to run a campaign to deliver Fuel Bank vouchers to members of TBBT. The value of each voucher would be £49 and the number of current beneficiaries is 1,421. The TBBT options are to be worked up in more detail and publicised. An appropriate amount for administration and publicity to be identified.

Reason for the Decision

The delivery options best meet the eligibility criteria set by the Government, meet local need and deliver support for food and energy bills to those most in need and within the timescales set by Government.

Alternative options considered:

A number of options were considered but were limited by the delivery options available and the timescales to spend or commit the funding. It was decided early on that it would be extremely difficult to create a new and separate discretionary hardship fund policy and application process. It is likely that any such scheme would be over-subscribed, difficult to administer, be open to fraud and will require a means test or evidence of hardship, which is not in keeping with the principles of the scheme. Therefore, any option should not replicate existing forms of support and should, where possible enhance existing schemes.

Publication date: 05/01/2022

Date of decision: 08/11/2021