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Chancellor urged to keep cost of living support for vulnerable families

The Chancellor has been urged to provide more money for vulnerable people struggling with the cost of living when he announces his Budget next week.

Almost 90 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have written to Jeremy Hunt asking him to extend the Household Support Fund (HSF), which is due to expire in March.

Started in 2021, the HSF has provided £2.5 billion of welfare support via local authorities to help vulnerable people with food, water and energy bills.

In their letter, MPs and Lords said: “Keeping the HSF will help to offset the cost of living crisis that still so many families are facing. It is simultaneously the right thing to do and the fiscally prudent choice.

“We believe that removing the HSF will push more people into poverty and destitution at this time and worsen their health and their children’s.”

The signatories include Labour former ministers Sir Stephen Timms, David Blunkett and Peter Hain, Conservative MP Rehman Chishti, former Tory chief whip George Young, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Their letter follows a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in January, that found more than a fifth of Britons were living in poverty, with dramatic increases in deep poverty and destitution since 2017.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, who organised the letter, said: “The depth of the cross-party support for the letter reflects the support and strength of feeling of many parliamentarians that during this cost of living crisis, the Chancellor needs to retain the Household Support Fund and allow Councils to continue providing this local support to people. These signatories know that many people are continuing to struggle.

“That’s why we have come together in a final push to the Chancellor to urge him not to withdraw this support from people across the country.”

The Chancellor will deliver his Budget on March 6 and continues to face pressure from Conservative backbenchers to cut taxes, while experts have warned against reductions in taxation without explaining how they will be paid for.

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