Struggling households in Halton could fall into crisis if vital government funding is not extended soon, council chiefs have warned.

Halton Council has joined other local authorities and charities including The Children’s Society, Trussell Trust and Barnardo’s to call on the Chancellor to extend the Household Support Fund, which is due to end on March 31.

The fund was set up on April 1 last year to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis.   The fund enables councils like Halton, to provide emergency support.

In the last year, Halton has used funding to support households in a range of ways including:

  • Providing uniform support, including winter coats, hats and gloves to keep children warm.
  • Offering warm spaces and free packed lunches during half term.
  • Purchasing heated blankets for individuals undergoing cancer treatment who find it difficult to keep warm.

The increased cost of living as well as inflated rental and mortgage costs has forced many more families into financial crisis and council bosses fear the worst if the fund is not maintained.

Cllr Mike Wharton, Halton Borough Council leader, said: "We know that things remain really tough for people, and that households across Halton continue to face worry and unexpected hardship as a result of higher costs.

"The fund has been a real lifeline to many in our borough and has enabled the council and its partners to provide vital support directly to those who have most needed it.

"I urge the Chancellor to announce an extension beyond March. Without this, I have a real concern that families who are already struggling will fall into crisis."

Cllr Mark Dennett, executive board member for corporate services, added: "With no let-up in sight for households, and growing demand for support services adding pressure to already overstretched council budgets, now is not the time to stop this fund.”

"We need an urgent announcement from Government about the future of the fund. This essential support has helped young and vulnerable members of our community to stay warm, have a hot meal and get to essential medical appointments."

Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said the fund had provided a 'vital safety net' for many families and urged the public to write to their MPs.

A government spokesman, said: "We have invested over £2 billion in the Household Support Fund with almost £800 million already paid to families with children to help with the cost of living.

"The current fund is available up until March, 2024 as part of wider cost of living support worth on average £3,700 per household, including raising benefits by 6.7 per cent from April and increasing the Local Housing Allowance."