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The following systems will be unavailable from 2.00pm on Thursday 29 February until 7.30am on Tuesday 5 March: our online Council Tax, business rates and housing benefit services, and our welfare assistance form. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Household Support Fund (HSF)


The household support fund has been provided by the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver support County Durham's most vulnerable households.

2023/24 scheme

We have been allocated £9.3 million to provide support to low income and vulnerable households who may be struggling with their energy and food costs, or who need other essential household items. Funding covers the period between 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024 and is in addition to our fun and food that runs during the main school holidays.

Household Support Fund 4 (HSF4) is a type of discretionary support, rather than being a legal entitlement. This means that awards are subject to the scheme having available/remaining funding.

The majority of HSF4 is targeted at those households who will not receive the Government's main Gov.uk: Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024. The funding is being allocated directly to eligible households or through partner organisations which include local charities and voluntary groups.

Examples of how the funding is being used:

  • Two payments of £75 to eligible young people in education establishments in receipt of free school meals. You do not need to apply for this, and payments will be made by voucher through your education provider.
    • Summer payments will be sent out from 19 and 26 June with Early Years payments being made from 3 July 2023. Vouchers will then be distributed via schools.
    • Winter payments will be sent out from 20 and 27 November with Early Years payments being made from 4 December 2023. Vouchers will then be distributed via schools.
  • Vouchers to households identified by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as not receiving the Government's cost of living support payments
  • Funding for local organisations to help residents with food and energy bill support

Do I need to apply for HSF4

You will not normally need to apply, as you are either automatically identified or will access the support through a specific partner. If you have not received support through these routes, there may be help available through our application fund.

Application fund 

Households in receipt of Housing Benefit can apply for support from our application fund. We have written to those households who we think are eligible during July 2023. To be eligible for a payment you must:

  • be a permanent resident in Durham County Council's area
  • be over the age of 16 and be responsible for the council tax liability
  • not have a member of  your household who is eligible for a Cost of Living or Winter Fuel payment
  • not have a child who is eligible for free school meals. If your child is in receipt of free school meals you will receive two payments this financial year from the Household Support Fund as detailed above
  • be experiencing hardship
  • not have access to any savings over £1,000
  • not be a care leaver or kinship carer - a separate scheme will support these groups
  • not have received a payment from the Household Support Fund from any other source

Before applying 

Please check if you have or will receive the DWP Cost of Living Payments and, if you have children, that they are not eligible for the summer and winter HSF awards which have already been agreed. This specific application to the fund is for those who are not eligible for DWP payments towards fuel and cost of living or the vouchers issued from the Household Support Fund for free school meals. 

Making an application

If you think that you may be eligible and have not been contacted, please complete the Household Support Fund 4 - Application Fund Application form.

Once your application is approved, you will receive a payment from our third party Family Fund to the bank account you provided on your application. This account must be in the name of the person eligible for support, payments cannot be made to an alternative account. 

Please note: The application fund is not an emergency response fund. Applications will take some time to consider, if you are struggling to afford enough food please apply to our Welfare assistance scheme.

Still need help

If you are not identified or supported through HSF4 and the Application Fund you should consider applying to our Welfare assistance scheme, if you are not eligible under the criteria shown we will direct you to our partners for advice, information or other support which may be available to you.

You can Apply online for Welfare Assistance or alternatively, you can contact us by phone Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 5.00pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm (we are closed bank holidays and weekends).

Information on where to get help with your money, including family finances, food and household bills, housing, benefits and debt can be found on our Help with your money page.

Other cost of living support

HSF4 is a small part of the overall support that the government is providing to households. Further information on the support available to help you with the cost of living, including income and disability benefits, bills and allowances, childcare, housing and travel can be found on the Government's cost of living hub Gov.uk: Cost of living support.

Detailed eligibility requirements for the Cost of Living Payments are at Gov.uk: Cost of Living Payments 2023 to 2024.

Contact us
Welfare assistance scheme
03000 267 900

Household Support Fund