This is the latest newsletter from the Government’s Department For Work & Pensions:
Household Support Fund doubled to help most vulnerable tackle cost of living
The Household Support Fund (HSF) has doubled to £1 billion with £500 million of new funding.
The six-month extension will help pensioners and families, as the Government takes further steps to help with the rising cost of living. People can continue to access support through their Local Authority, ensuring those most in need get the help available.
A third of the funding will be ring-fenced to support families with children, while another third will be dedicated to pensioners. This ensures the people who need it most will continue to receive vital support to meet essential household costs.
Using their local knowledge, Local Authorities will decide how to best use the remainder of the fund within the scope set out by ministers. Previous funding has supported households with food, clothing, energy and water costs, and this extension will ensure that support continues through to the autumn.
See the full press release: Household Support Fund doubled to help most vulnerable tackle cost of living.
Fit note changes
From 6 April the way GPs sign fit notes is changing. GPs will be able to authorise fit notes digitally without the need to print and sign them. This means instead of a handwritten signature in ink, fit notes will have the doctor’s name included in the form, which can either be printed or sent digitally to patients. These changes do not otherwise change the purpose and function of the fit note. While this is being rolled out the existing fit note will still be legally valid and should be accepted until we notify that it is being withdrawn. Guidance will be updated on GOV.UK on 6 April.
Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance digital service
Get Help Arranging Child Maintenance has replaced Child Maintenance Options. It is available 24/7 and is the first step for customers seeking information about child maintenance arrangements. The service explains customers’ options and includes information about family-based arrangements as well as the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which, if chosen, generates a unique reference number the customer needs to make their application. Customers unable to use the online service and who have no one to help them can speak to a CMS case worker on 0800 171 2345. Customers in Northern Ireland must still use Child Maintenance Choices.
New money guidance from Money and Pensions Service
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) has launched new guidance to help people manage changes to the cost of living. Its focus is on people who have not yet missed payments on their bills or credit commitments, but who are at serious risk of doing so. The guidance on its MoneyHelper website helps people manage their money in uncertain times. These resources and tools are aimed at people who:
- Are struggling to keep on top of their bills and payments
- Have experienced a reduction in income or squeezed budgets
- Are self-employed
- Have been or are worried about being made redundant or losing their job
For people who are already missing payments on their bills or credit commitments, then free debt advice services are available via MaPS’ advice locator tool.
Living with COVID
From 1 April changes to COVID-19 testing in England have been introduced. Further information including who can access free tests and how to get them can be found on GOV.UK. There are also resources to help you keep your networks informed. In addition, The UK Health and Security Agency has produced a stakeholder pack, Living Safely with COVID that also includes information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.