THE leader of North Somerset council, Cllr Mike Bell, is urging the Government to extend a financial support scheme which helps "families in crisis."

The Household Support Fund is due to end in March. Families across the region have received over 41,000 different crisis support payments directly from the fund, helping them buy essentials such as food.

Cllr Bell said: "I've renewed my call to the government to extend a crucial financial support scheme for struggling households in North Somerset. 

"Organisations including The Children’s Society, Trussell Trust, Barnardo’s, the Local Government Association, and other councils across the country are calling on the Government to extend the Household Support Fund, which is due to end on March 31.

"The fund enables councils to provide emergency support suited to the needs of their communities, whether that is so families can buy essentials such as food, energy or help with providing white goods or furniture.

"Families in North Somerset have received over 41,000 different crisis support payments directly from the Household Support Fund – around £2.6million per annum of vital financial assistance.

"The Household Support Fund has been vital in helping thousands of residents as costs rise.

"The fund has enabled councils like ours to provide financial support suited to the needs of our communities, whether that’s through a cash payment so families can buy the essentials they need, advice to help people access the financial support they are entitled to or through the direct provision of furniture and white goods.

"We want this vital support to continue."

Visit The Children's Society website to show your support.

Cllr Bell quoted Mark Russell, chief executive of The Children’s Society, who said: “The Household Support Fund has provided a vital safety net for so many families facing financial crisis and destitution.

"We have seen it provide a wide range of support such help when a family has a sudden job loss, bereavement or boiler breakdown. It can also as supplying food vouchers for children over the summer.

“We are really concerned that if the funding is not renewed past March these vouchers will disappear and holiday hunger will be a major issue.

"We are asking the public to write to their MP to call on the Government to take action and extend the fund so families in crisis aren’t left without support.”

Cllr Catherine Gibbons, deputy leader of North Somerset Council, added: “This funding has been so important to help children and families cope with the pressures on them.

"We’ve been able to direct support to families most in need and know it has made a huge difference in ensuring that children from the poorest families got an extra helping hand. The government needs to continue this support at a time when energy bills, mortgages and inflation continues to bite into family budgets.”