Thousands of people offered support amid the rising cost of living

This story was published 4 January 2023

A scheme to provide support to people struggling with the cost of living to buy food and essential items will launch in North Yorkshire this week.

Man in a supermarket

The third phase of the Household Support Fund is being rolled out to more than 23,000 people who are eligible, with ourselves working in partnership with borough and district councils. It will provide a one-off payment in supermarket e-vouchers to help those most in need to pay for food and other essentials.

The scheme was initially set up by the Department for Work and Pensions to help people meet the cost of energy bills, food and other essentials as the country recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in its third phase, the national criteria has been updated to help people who missed out on other government support designed to help with the cost of living.

The funding is allocated to councils, which then distribute the money in a way that meets the needs of their local communities. As a result, Household Support Fund schemes may vary slightly in different parts of the country. 

People who are eligible in North Yorkshire do not need to contact us or their borough or district authority, as they will automatically be identified. People will receive a letter between now and 16 January outlining how to redeem their voucher with a personalised code. They have until 15 February when the scheme closes, to claim their voucher.

The two main groups of people who will receive the payments are:

  • Residents who received housing benefit on, or between, 26 August and 25 September, but who did not qualify for the second cost of living payment for people on low income benefits or tax credits. They will receive a single e-voucher for £325.
  • Residents who were getting the maximum discount to pay their council tax bill through the means-tested Council Tax Reduction Scheme, as of 30 November. They will receive a single e-voucher for £85.

Residents receiving just a partial reduction in their council tax do not qualify for the Household Support Fund scheme.

The vouchers can be used at a variety of supermarkets, with some offering an online shopping option.  The e-voucher can be used directly from a smartphone or printed off to use as a paper voucher. If people choose to print them out, they are asked to look after them carefully, as they would money and make sure the bar code can be read.

Executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said: “These are difficult times for people, so the third phase of the Household Support Fund will really make a difference to the many residents who are struggling to afford food and basic necessities. We’ve been working closely with borough and district council colleagues to identify who is eligible for the Household Support Fund vouchers based on guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions, so you do not need to approach your local council, we will contact you.

“We are asking people to be vigilant for fraudsters claiming to be representing the council and looking to take advantage of the challenging circumstances people are facing, so please be aware we will not ask for your bank account details.

“I would also urge anyone who is eligible and gets a letter to make sure they do redeem their voucher by February 15. Nobody will know when you use your voucher in the supermarket that you’ve had a Household Support Fund payment, it will look like any other voucher.

“If you do not qualify for the latest round of the Household Support Fund, but are struggling to pay for food, energy, or other essentials, there is other help available. You can find details on our Household Support Fund and cost of living support pages.”

The latest round of the Household Support Fund has also been used to supplement other schemes which will help residents with their household costs. This includes support for foodbanks and other schemes providing free food across the county. A further £200,000 has been invested in the North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund, which provides emergency support with food and utilities. Warm and Well, an organisation which helps to ensure homes are properly heated to prevent poor health, has an additional £260,000 to support people who are struggling with their energy costs. Citizens Advice North Yorkshire are contracted by the county council to deliver Warm and Well to residents.

The chief executive of Warm and Well, Carol Shreeve, said demand for the service had risen enormously in recent months. On one Thursday in December, 100 emails and 63 phone calls were received in a day from people concerned about heating their homes. She said many were struggling with bills for the first time.

She urged people worried about energy bills to get in touch as early as possible.

“You do not need to be in crisis to get support from Warm and Well,” she said.

“If you are beginning to struggle with heating your home, or feel you are going to have problems this year, come and talk to us. I would urge people to seek help as soon as possible.”

Read further details on the Warm and Well scheme. Read more information on the Household Support Fund in North Yorkshire.

An exceptional circumstances fund has also been created to help other people who may have missed out on the Government’s cost of living payment awarded in November 2022. Further details of the exceptional circumstances process will be published on the county council’s Household Support Fund web page by the middle of January.