Decision Maker: Executive
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To recommend proposals for distributing the
extension of the Household Support Fund and consider wider options
for local hardship support.
i. supermarket vouchers be purchased, or for opted schools to make equivalent
arrangements, to provide support over the Summer and October Holidays to
children qualifying for Free School Meals in Bracknell Forest schools and the
equivalent under 5s. Households will receive a £15 voucher per child per week of the holidays. As detailed in 5.4(a)
ii. pension age households who are in receipt of pension credit or council tax reduction are provided with a one-off supermarket voucher in June of £100. As detailed in 5.4(b)
iii. the remaining funding of approximately £15,000, and the value of any
unredeemed vouchers, be used to target low income working age disabled and carer households without children, and care leavers with a supermarket voucher of £50. As detailed in 5.4(c). If more funding is available, the decision to increase this value is recommended to be delegated to the Chief Executive.
iv. the Discretionary Fund element of the Council Tax Energy Rebate is
initially used to provide financial support to working age and pensioner
households occupying properties in Council Tax Bands E-H who currently
receive income based council tax support and also to care leavers, as set out
in paragraph 5.10.
v. authority for agreeing proposals to allocate the remainder of the
Discretionary Fund element of the Council Tax Energy Rebate be delegated to the Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning, advised by the Members Welfare Steering Group.
1. To seek endorsement on each of the recommendations to enable the rapid and widespread distribution of the funding to households in the community.
2. The Household Support Fund has been provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but the local authority must determine how it is spent within the scope of the guidance that has been set out. The local authority is required by the DWP to create a local eligibility framework to disburse the funding. Recommendations have been established based on learning from how the previous equivalent Covid Winter Grant, Covid Local Support Grant and Household Support Fund was spent.
3. In addition to the mandatory Council Tax Energy Rebate which is payable to
households in Band A to D properties who pay their energy bills, as directed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, there is also a Discretionary Fund. Councils are required to individually determine how to allocate the Discretionary Funding to households that are energy bill payers but not covered by the main scheme. Bracknell Forest’s allocation is £184,650.
4. Financial Hardship is increasing and has seen a drastic increase due to the
pandemic and cost of living increases. Therefore, making these recommendations aims to help alleviate the financial pressures this is causing for people. Presenting the two funds together aims to align with work across the council, maximise the reach of the funding and minimise unwanted duplication.
1. The financial hardship officers group considered other options for spending the household support fund, but it was concluded that these would not be as effective as those recommended in terms of efficiently disbursing funds to those most in need whilst keeping within the guidelines set out by DWP. Several other options have been considered, including grants to voluntary and community sector organisations and fuel support for households on pre-payment metres but these are more complex and labour intensive. The proposals follow agreed practice in distributing previous tranches of this funding.
2. A range of approaches have been considered for the disbursement of the Energy Rebate Discretionary Funding, including having a completely flexible application process that any household can apply for. However, the absence of any defined criteria would mean that assessment of eligibility would be both complex and subjective and would require more resources to effectively distribute the funding. The existing Hardship Fund is well established, and it is felt that this remains the best route to direct households in acute financial hardship towards.
Reason Key: Expenditure > £400,000;
Financial Impact: Included within report
Subject to Urgent Proceedings: No
Making Representations: In writing to the Chief Executive
Contact: Katie Flint, Policy and Performance Lead Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01344 352217.
Report author: Mark Barratt
Publication date: 24/05/2022
Date of decision: 24/05/2022
Decided at meeting: 24/05/2022 - Executive
Effective from: 01/06/2022