Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 19th January 2022.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to help ensure local authorities support people out of (a) food and (b) fuel poverty this winter.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

This Government is committed to supporting those on low incomes, and continues to do so through many measures, including through spending over £110 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2021/22 and by further increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 from April 2022.

We recognise that some people require extra support over the winter, which is why vulnerable households across the country can access a new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. The Household Support Fund provides £421 million to help vulnerable people in England with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The Barnett Formula applies in the usual way, with the devolved administrations receiving almost £80 million.

Local Authorities in England have the discretion to use the Household Support Fund to design bespoke schemes that best meet local need within the scheme guidance which sets out that the fund should primarily be used to provide support to vulnerable households with food, energy and water costs. This includes any form of fuel that is used for the purpose of domestic heating, cooking or lighting and support with water for drinking, washing, cooking, sewerage and sanitary purposes. The Household Support Fund can also be used to provide support with essentials linked to these items.

To support low income families further we have increased the value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25, helping eligible low income households buy basic foods like milk, fruit and vitamins. We are also investing over £200m a year for the next three years in our Holiday Activities and Food programme, which will continue to provide healthy meals, enriching activities and free childcare places to children from low-income families, in every local authority in England, providing them with a wide range of benefits to their health, wellbeing and learning.

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