woman in green long sleeve shirt standing in front of clear glass jars
Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

In Leeds, food justice and addressing poverty and inequality matter deeply to us. We are part of the Marmot City Network which aims to reduce inequality and improve health outcomes for all. The Household Support Fund is part of this approach helping to address inequality in the city and  has enabled us to work with many third-sector groups to provide dignified access to food, help with energy costs, distribution of warm winter coats (donated by residents) and much more. For example, organisations like Money Buddies offer vital advice to households who are struggling to make ends meet; Our neighbourhood networks, developed during the pandemic, reach people who would never come to the Council for support or might not qualify; and the Hamara Centre runs the Cultural Food Hub, working with 36 partner organisations to offer diverse communities nutritious food that meets their specific needs. They now distribute around 35,000 food parcels each year and rely on the Household Support Fund to do this.

Food pantries offer a dignified approach to food justice that puts co-operative values into action. They take us back to some of the earliest co-op models in Leeds that offered safe, affordable food to workers. We are looking to grow this model, learning from best practice here and further afield.

If the Government ceases to continue the Household Support Fund, it will have a huge impact on our ability to care for the most vulnerable in our city. We are calling on them to continue the Household Support Fund and brought a White Paper motion to this effect at our January Full Council meeting. It was passed after receiving cross-party support, though it worth noting that the Conservatives didn’t, who sought to amend and weaken it).


The text of the White Paper Motion (in the name of Councillor Harland) – Household Support Fund:

This Council calls on the Government to extend the Household Support Fund (HSF) before it runs out in March 2024.

Council notes the fund provides a lifeline to tens of thousands of households in Leeds struggling to afford energy, food, clothing and other essentials. Council is concerned that across Leeds families are living under the threat of losing this vital lifeline, especially given one in five children in Leeds are living in poverty.

Council further notes many charities and third sector organisations in Leeds depend on HSF to deliver emergency cost of living support to families who are at risk of financial hardship.

Council is deeply concerned that the Government did not use its Autumn Statement or draft Local Government Finance Settlement to confirm an extension of the fund, and therefore calls for the Government to provide urgent clarity and reassurance to these families, and extend the Household Support Fund beyond its current end date of March 2024.