Household Support Fund (HSF)

On 30 September, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a new grant, the Household Support Fund (HSF).

The funds have been provided by the DWP to East Sussex County Council who have allocated a limited fund to us to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills (arrears only ).

This fund will close on 31st March 2022 or when the fund has been spent, whichever is sooner.

Eligibility Criteria

To apply for the support, applicants must be in receipt (receiving payment) of a means tested Benefits;

  • Universal Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job-Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

You must be over 18 years of age and live within the Wealden District.

There are two strands to the scheme, ‘Energy and Water Costs (arrears only)’ and ‘Food’.  Eligible applicants / households can apply for both. Please see the schemes below for definition of arrears and for further eligibility details.

You must have an outstanding arrears balance (this means that you are behind on your payments – this is not your normal monthly instalment) on your energy or water bill and be able to evidence this with a bill dated within the last 30 days.

You must be resident in the Wealden District, be the named person on the energy or water bill and the account holder of the bank account for which any support payment will be made to.

You can make applications for energy and water costs (arrears only) up to a maximum value of £250.00 during the lifetime of this scheme. This is a maximum amount per household.

If you are successful with your application for support, you must upload evidence that you have paid the arrears that you have claimed for otherwise you may be required to repay the funds.

If we pay funds in to your bank account and you are overdrawn you may not be able to access them and may wish to complete a First Right of Appropriation of Funds to ensure that you can use the funds as intended to pay your utility arrears.  You are responsible for ensuring that the funds are used for the correct purpose.

You can apply for the Energy and Water costs (arrears only) support by visiting the Grant Approval website

Support with Food costs will be will be provided through Huggg Vouchers as follows;

  • £25.00 per adult per week (aged 18 and over) in the Household. We will not make payment for adult children.
  • £15.00 per child per week (aged under 18) in the Household.

The maximum payment will be £100.00 per adult (partner) and £60 per child. We will not make payment for adult children.

Vouchers will be award for a 4 week period and successful
applicants / households are only eligible for one award during the lifetime of
the scheme.

You can find more details about Huggg on their website . In order to provide the voucher we will need to share your name and email address with Huggg.

You can apply for Food support by visiting the Grant Approval website

If you are at risk of losing your home you should contact the Housing Options teams immediately. For more information view our Housing Options, Homelessness, Advice webpage.
There is no right of appeal under this scheme. All decisions are final.  Any complaints should be directed to East Sussex County Council

What does First Right of Appropriation mean?

Put simply it means that when you pay money into your account, you have the right to tell the bank how you want that money to be used. Therefore you must inform them how you want the money to be used at the time of payment. If you don’t give your bank instructions at the time of payment, they may decide how the money should be used.

Example – your support payment from us is paid into your bank account so you can pay your utility provider. However, you have exceeded your agreed overdraft limit by a couple of hundred pounds and the bank wants to use any money coming in to reduce this.

How can you exercise your right?

It is preferable to send written instructions to your bank in case of any later dispute.  It is also a good idea to request that the bank acknowledge your letter or you could send it via recorded delivery. You may wish to check with them which is the best method.

Example wording for a letter giving instructions to your bank.

Dear Sir / Madam,

Re: (Insert name, address and account number)

A BACS payment for £xxx will credit my account number xxxxxxx within the next 5 days from Wealden District Council.  I am exercising my first right of appropriation over these funds and wish you to pay the following items from them:

£xxxx (UTILITY PROVIDER)

My account reference with them is:

Yours sincerely

(Insert Name…..)

This should ensure payment of the item(s) listed.

Remember to keep copies of all correspondence with the bank.

When is it not useful?

Although appropriation can be a useful tool in the short term, the bank is only likely to accept instructions for a short time before withdrawing banking facilities, so at some point you may need to open another bank account elsewhere.

Where you have a current account and a personal loan with the same bank, appropriation cannot be used to stop an internal transfer to the loan account.

What can I do if the bank won’t accept instructions?

Pay the money into another account if you can.  If the money has been paid in and the bank won’t return it, immediately commence the bank’s complaints procedure.

Other help and support available from East Sussex County Council

There are other ways in which East Sussex County Council can assist you as we recommend visiting their website for additional information.
If you’re worried about keeping warm at home and you are on a low income, contact the Warm Homes Check service for East Sussex. You may be able to get a free warm homes check on your property, with advice on how to keep it warm and possible grants towards smaller upgrades like windows, boilers and insulation. To find out more, enquire online, text WARM to 80011 or phone 0800 464 7307.

Free School Meals

Free school meal vouchers are on offer for children in families who qualify. Vouchers can be claimed for two weeks over the Christmas holiday in December, for half-term in February 2022 and for the two-week Easter holiday in April 2022. Your children’s school should keep you informed: speak to the school if you need more help. You can also find out more about who qualifies for free school meals and how to claim them, on the East Sussex County Council website

If you’re in difficulty and would like more advice, Citizens Advice can help.

You can search for advice on their national website and find contacts for local advisors in East Sussex.
Enquire online CitizensAdvice or text ADVICE, with your name and postcode, to 81400.

The service can help direct you to the best source of help. Voluntary groups in East Sussex, including foodbanks, are being given an extra
£1m of funding to help East Sussex residents manage extra pressures this winter.

All of these programmes are supported by the Government’s Household Support Fund which has allocated £3,896,783 to East Sussex for the period to March 2022.

About half of the money will support families with children. This will include resources targeted to families that East Sussex County Council already works with because they are in need and the cost of free school meals