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Kent hardship fund for struggling families hit by cost of living crisis restricted because of demand


A hardship fund to help struggling families has had to restrict access because it is receiving so many appeals for help.

Kent County Council manages what is known as the Kent Support and Assistance Service (KSAS), a discretionary scheme that provides help over the short term for individuals and families who have no other means of support.

The fund is to help families struggling through the cost of living crisis Picture: Getty/iStock
The fund is to help families struggling through the cost of living crisis Picture: Getty/iStock

There are different forms of help, from groceries, baby food, milk and nappies through to furniture, crockery and essential electrical appliances such as fridges and washing machines.

But it has been forced to limit what it can provide because so many applications are being made.

Its website says: “We are currently experiencing a high volume of requests due to the coronavirus pandemic and seasonal demand and we are prioritising applications for food and utilities.

It goes on to say: “We are not currently considering requests for other items including furniture, white goods and clothing.”

Figures provided by the county council show that over the last six months, 18,942 applications were made with 9,784 granted while 8,382 turned down over the same period.

There appears to be a significant dip in those offered help in March, when 880 applications were approved but 2,030 were not.

The previous month saw 654 applications granted but 1,989 were not.

Higher energy bills, increases in council tax and the rising rate of inflation have all combined to create a cost of living crisis.

But the county council could be in a position to ease the pressure through a separate fund being set up by the government in which councils will get a share of a £1bn cash injection to help poorer families.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his Spring statement that the Household Support Fund would ‘double’ from £500m to £1bn.

The Local Government Association gave a cautious welcome to the extra funding. It said: “Councils will need maximum flexibility and quick details on allocations, so they can ensure this funding reaches those in need and can be used to prevent families from reaching crisis point in the first place.”

KCC was asked to comment.

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