Labour slam Chancellor’s ‘stealth’ fund cut as Lewisham households set to lose £13m in support

Lewisham Labour have slammed the Chancellor’s reported decision to axe the £842m national Household Support Fund that has helped families with food and energy costs.

The party claims Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has cut the fund “by stealth”, with the news coming after the Autumn Statement just weeks ago, by not extending it beyond its April 2024 end date.

Lewisham Labour claims households in the borough are set to lose £13million as a result.

In the most recent round of funding Lewisham council used the Household Support Fund for projects such as £2million of support for 10,000 children during the school holidays who receive Free School Meals, £900,000 of support to school children not eligible for Free School Meals, and £200,000 to assist those with their energy bills including debt repayments and fuel vouchers.

A spokesman for Lewisham Labour said: “Under the Conservatives, families in Lewisham have faced 13 years of stagnation, low growth, falling wages, rising taxes and crumbling public services.

“Last year, the Conservatives recklessly crashed the British economy, setting off run-away inflation and hammering working families further. The Autumn Statement was an opportunity to fix the mess the Tories have created.

“Taking that support away is an attack on hard working families in Lewisham who are doing everything they can to get through this cost of living crisis.

“The Conservatives have utterly wrecked the British economy – and they are asking families in Lewisham to pay the price.”

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, said: “The Household Support Fund has been essential in supporting people through this Conservative Cost of Living Crisis. In Lewisham, we have used this funding to reduce child hunger and to provide families with support with their energy bills.

“Household finances remain stretched for so many. It is the wrong time to be cutting this support and I call on the Government to reverse this decision.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We have invested over £2billion into the Household Support Fund over the last two years – with almost £800 million already paid to families with children to help with the cost of living. The fund is available up until March 2024 and comes on top of a record cost of living support package worth around an £3,700 per household.

“This includes increasing benefits by 6.7 per cent from April, increasing the state pension and increasing the local housing allowance to help private renters on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit save nearly £800 on housing costs.”

Pictured top: Right To Food Lewisham Rally in October (Picture: Stéphanie Bosset)

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