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.

Purpose of funding and target groups for support

Local authorities were able to use their allocation from the £25 million funding flexibly to provide a range of practical and holistic supports to tackle financial insecurity over the winter months. The Guidance provided suggestions on the following areas of action, but local authorities were able to respond to wider emerging needs:

  • Emergency financial assistance, such as:
    • Supplementing local budgets for the Scottish Welfare Fund
    • Boosting local funding for Discretionary Housing Payments
    • Proactive financial assistance to support those likely to experience hardship – including people who may have been impacted by the cut to Universal Credit and those who may not be eligible for mainstream or other support
    • Build upon supports already delivered by local authorities, such as Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments.
    • Financial assistance to access to food, fuel and other essentials
  • Direct assistance to access food, fuel and other essentials where this is more appropriate or is the preference of individuals themselves
  • Other activities and services, as necessary, to support individuals to overcome financial crisis and support wellbeing, including targeted activity to support marginalised groups, activity to prevent and address homelessness, and funding to community and third sector organisations

The guidance identified the following groups who are at an increased risk of financial insecurity and may therefore be more likely to compromise on food, fuel and other essentials. These also cover the tackling child poverty priority groups[1]:

  • Younger people
  • Disabled people
  • Lone parents
  • Minority ethnic households
  • People living in households with children
  • Larger families
  • People with No Recourse to Public Funds
  • People living in households on low incomes
  • People living in the most deprived areas

In addition, local authorities indicated that households who had recently lost the £20 Universal Credit supplement and households whose income was just above the threshold for entitlements were also approaching for support, but that officials had limited ways of proactively reaching these groups within existing data frameworks. The flexibility in the funding available enabled local authorities to use their discretion when targeting support.

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