Please help us secure millions to protect our most vulnerable residents – an open letter to our MPs

Dear Dan Carden MP, Ian Byrne MP, Maria Eagle MP, Kim Johnson MP and Paula Barker MP,

As you know, The Department for Work and Pensions’ Household Support Fund is extra money given to councils to support residents with the cost of essentials like food and energy. It was first launched on 6 October 2021, has been extended several times and it’s worth £2 billion over its lifetime. It has become a lifeline for our council to be able to support our most vulnerable residents and for projects in our food emergency network to be able to support people to access healthy food.

Over 2023/24, the fund has brought an additional £12.1 million to Liverpool City Council.

This fund is central to much of the work of Feeding Liverpool and partner organisations across the city who are tackling food insecurity.

The Household Support Fund has enabled Feeding Liverpool to:

  • Financially support over 70 organisations in the city who are providing food support through foodbanks, community food spaces and community meals. This funding is vital to enable these services to cope with the increased demand they are currently experiencing due to the cost-of-living crisis. Together these organisations provide over 2100 emergency food parcels every week, alongside 5000 visits to community food spaces and 2200 community meals. Over 60% of all funding for food support in the city was identified as having come via the Household Support Fund, with 1/3 of food support organisations saying they were concerned about their stability in the year ahead. A loss to this funding would put many food support organisations at risk, and therefore significantly impact their ability to support people who are facing a crisis in the future.
  • Begin a new programme of work, the Healthy Boost, which we launched only a few weeks ago in partnership with Liverpool City Council Public Health team. Though this project we are supporting approximately 285 families at risk of acute food insecurity, including 150 pregnant women and families with small children who have No Recourse to Public Funds, 85 pregnant women and families with small children on a low income and 50 kinship carers who are all at risk of acute food insecurity.
  • Run the Winter Boost project once again, boosting emergency food parcels with fresh produce this winter, this supported over 7,000 households in acute food insecurity last year.

Furthermore, the wider fund has enabled the city to deliver vital support via, for example, the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, energy vouchers for residents on a low income, supermarket vouchers for families during the school holidays who usually receive free school meals and targeted support for care leavers, pensioners and asylum seekers.

At present there is no confirmation that it will be extended beyond March 2024. It is unthinkable to imagine a near future without this extra money at a time when our frontline services are experiencing the most demand, with over 2100 emergency food parcels being distributed every week in Liverpool.

I am urging you to write to the Work and Pensions Secretary and ask them to renew the Household Support Fund for the next financial year and preferably as a multi-year fund tracking inflation. Councils need to be able to know if this is being extended next year as a matter of urgency. The short-term nature of the fund does not allow for long term planning.

Our council needs to continue to have flexibility in terms of how they allocate funds, in order to meet our local communities’ needs and priorities.

Yours sincerely

Dr Naomi Maynard

Director of Feeding Liverpool

On behalf of 71 food support organisations in Liverpool