The Household Support fund (HSF) has been described as “a lifeline that brings back self-esteem, dignity and breaks the cycle of despair” to family and friend carers and yet this funding is due to end in March 2024.
The HSF is a government-funded scheme that helps those who are financially struggling and vulnerable with essential costs. In West Sussex, it is administered by local charity, Carers Support West Sussex (CSWS) to family and friend carers who express financial challenges due to their caring role.
In June 2023, CSWS engaged with carers of West Sussex, which highlighted:
- 60% (or 463) of carers agreed that the cost of living had a negative impact on their mental health as a carer.
- 43% (or 336) of carers are spending less on non-essentials to help reduce financial impact of caring; and,
- 40% (or 309) of carers have had money worries and financial insecurity worse than 2020 (pre-pandemic).
60-year-old Julie, who cares for her adult son with drug misuse issues, experienced a deterioration in her health, forcing her to reduce her working hours. This change, though necessary for her well-being, led to a significant decrease in her income. As a result, she found herself drowning in bills, rent arrears, and a relentless stream of court and final notice letters.
Julie went on to say, “Outside, I put on a happy face, a mask, but inside, I was breaking and falling apart. The grant was a real lifeline. It helped me clear most of my debts and stopped those final notice letters from arriving. It eased a big worry. This grant is more than just money; it’s a lifeline that brings back self-esteem and dignity and breaks the cycle of despair.”
Sonia Mangan, CEO of CSWS, added “At a time when we know carers are facing unprecedented pressures, it would be ludicrous to not extend the HSF. How can we sit comfortably knowing that this lifeline could cease. Has anyone considered the knock-on effect of removing this vital fund?”
Since October 2021, £2.5 billion has supported tens of thousands of people across the country all facing extreme financial hardship.
The government has not yet announced funding for the HSF beyond March 2024. National carers charity, Carers Trust believe that the government should urgently announce new funding for the Household Support Fund for at least another year. And to this end, Carers Trust briefed MPs both as Carers Trust, as well as part of the Crisis Support Working Group at the Westminster Hall Debate about the Household Support Fund on Wednesday 31 January. The debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister.
The funds continuation is vital in ensuring that carers in our local community, who selflessly contribute to the well-being and care of others, are not left to face financial hardship alone.
CSWS therefore strongly call for your support in advocating for the continuation and potential expansion of the Household Support Fund. Your influence and dedication to our local carer community can make a significant difference in the lives of those who rely on this fund for their basic needs.