Winter Support Fund: summary of local action to tackle financial insecurity 2021-22

This report summarises the activities delivered by local authorities using flexible funding streams on financial insecurity between November 2021 – March 2022, and highlights trends and learning to enhance future policy and practice.

Funding context

On 29 October 2021, the Scottish Government announced a £41 million Winter Support Fund to help people struggling financially during the winter.[1]

Key elements of the package included:

  • £6 million for third sector partners to support low income families
  • £10 million to help people who were struggling to pay fuel bills
  • £25 million flexible funding to help local authorities support wellbeing and respond to financial insecurity based on local needs

National guidance was published to assist local authorities in deploying the £25 million element of this Fund.[2] This provided a strong steer in favour of cash-first approaches and the integration of money advice and holistic support services to prevent future need.

Evaluation of interventions in 2020-21 highlighted the positive impact of flexibility to respond to local needs.[3] This shaped the decision to take a similar approach for the delivery of the Winter Support Fund.

The impact of the Winter Support Fund was further bolstered by continued investment in wider low income supports, including the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment, increased value of Best Start Foods, expansion of Free School Meal provision and continued investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments. In March 2022 the Scottish Government published its second tackling child poverty delivery plan – Best Start, Bright Futures.[4]

On 21 February 2022 the Scottish Government announced an £80 million Local Authority COVID Economic Recovery Fund (LACER Fund)[5]  which also provided additional financial support, targeting communities, businesses and low income households recovering from the pandemic and impacted by the cost of living crisis.

A consultation on a draft plan on ending the need for food banks was held between 20 October 2021 and 25 January 2022. A key action within the draft plan was to strengthen cash-first responses to hardship, and the learning from the Winter Support Fund will help to shape this work. We will publish a final version of the plan in Autumn 2022.

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