Dear Parents/ Carers,
I believe that many of you have heard about the Household Support Fund. This is a one-off hardship grant of up to £150 to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills and wider essential costs.
Schools are not being given this money. The money has come from the Government to Birmingham City Council. Schools have been made “referral partners”, along with other professional and voluntary organisations in the community. Referral partners can refer a household for the fund, but the decision as to how much money a family is given, rests with the Local Authority. For this area, the local organisation that leads on this is the Hall Green Families Team. Please click this link for more:
Unfortunately, it is not the case that every household is entitled to this money. Whilst it is true that there are no set criteria for applying, such as Free School Meals; referral partners can only refer families in need. I have spoken with the lead at the Hall Green Families Team to ask for clarification on what this means. I have been told that this money must be used for families who need money so that their family can eat, or so that they can heat their house, and that it must be used for the most vulnerable in the community.
It is impossible for us to decide who is the most vulnerable in the community, but there are some measures that we can use- for example: families on free school meals (FSM), and those families that we have previously referred to the Food Bank, the debt service, and those in emergency housing. These are families in desperate need of money in order to feed their children or heat their home.
I feel strongly that our job is to support our school community, and Mrs O’Keefe has already referred many families for this grant whilst signposting them to other support services. I have spoken with the Headteachers of other local schools and we are all doing the same. No school has referred all its families, and all of us are concerned with how schools are expected to manage this situation fairly and equitably.
I contacted the Hall Green Families Team this morning for some clarification. They have contacted all schools this afternoon, giving us further guidance. They have sent out a set of questions (“Eligibility Prompts”) that a referral partner must work through in order to determine whether a household is vulnerable. These are questions around income, employment, etc.
The Household Support Fund has the potential to help a family with a one-off payment. This payment may be £10- it is not always £150. However, it is a fund for families that need money to eat or heat their home. It is our responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable families receive the money, so please bear with us when we have to ask you questions about your financial situation as we work through the Eligibility Prompts.
Once again, this money is nothing to do with schools. Schools have been added to the list of referral partners that already exist in the community.
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