The household support fund is money that government has given local councils so they can support the most vulnerable residents with essential daily costs, like buying food and paying energy bills.

This page will be kept up to date with details of what is available and how you can apply (last updated 20 February 2024).

The information on this page is for people living in the Portsmouth City Council area, PO1 to PO6. If you live in Hampshire, you can find out about support in your area on the Hampshire County Council site.

Exceptional hardship scheme

Households who are in severe financial hardship and can’t afford essentials will be able to apply to the council for an exceptional hardship payment.

You will need to provide evidence of your income and bank accounts, and tell us about why you need help. This is a one-off support payment, so it is not possible for a household to apply twice.

Applying for an exceptional hardship payment

There will be three “windows” when people can apply for an exceptional hardship payment. The first two windows for applications have now closed.

The third, and final, window for applications is now open, until 15 March, so anyone in exceptional hardship can make an application before then.

This is a limited pot of funding, and the scheme will close when the funds have been used up.

If you are already receiving support from the council, for example from social care or the housing service, or an advice and support service working in the community, they may be able to support your application, so you don’t need to provide as much information. Contact your support worker to find out if they can make an application to the Exceptional Hardship scheme for you.

Find out how to apply and submit your application online.

If you are unable to apply online and are not linked in with any advice and support services, call the council’s household support fund helpline on 023 9268 8010.

Help for families

Eligible families will get a total of £150 in supermarket vouchers (per child) by the end of winter.

Families with children attending school in Portsmouth in years R to 11 who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals received their second voucher, worth £80 per child, before the Christmas break. Families received a voucher code automatically from their child’s school. Most voucher codes are sent by email, so please ensure that your school has your correct email address if you didn’t receive a voucher you were expecting.

Lower income families with children who did not qualify for a voucher from a school before Christmas can now apply for a voucher.

The scheme is now open to apply. You can apply for a Household Support Fund Family Voucher if you:

  1. Are living in the Portsmouth City Council area (PO1-PO6);
  2. Are receiving Child Benefit for a child aged 0-19, or are at least 20 weeks pregnant;
  3. Did not have receive an £80 voucher in respect of this child from a school between November 2023 and January 2024;
  4. Have a total household earned and unearned income (excluding benefits and tax credits) of below £1,500 in the last month (or £1,385 in the last four weeks if paid weekly).

Apply for a Household Support Fund Family Voucher

If you are unable to complete an online application or upload proof of your circumstances online, you can make a telephone application by calling the council’s household support fund helpline on 023 9268 8010.

You must submit your application by 12:00 noon on 15 March 2024. Due to limited funding, the Household Support Fund Family Vouchers may close earlier than this, if all the funds have been given out.  Full details of the scheme are included in the Household Support Fund Family Voucher Scheme Policy.

Living costs payment

If you are on a low income but do not qualify for the £299 cost of living payment from the DWP that is due to be paid in February, you may qualify for our new £200 living costs payment scheme.

The scheme is now open to apply. You can apply for a Household Support Fund Cost of Living Payment if you are:

  1. Living in the Portsmouth City Council area (PO1-PO6)
  2. In one of the following qualifying income groups:
  • Currently receiving Housing Benefit and not receiving any other means-tested income benefit (Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit

OR

  • Currently receiving Universal Credit, but did not receive a payment of Universal Credit for an assessment period that ended between 13 November and 12 December 2023

OR

  • Currently receiving Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit), with the claim starting on 13 December 2023 or later

Apply for a Household Support Fund Cost of Living Payment.

If you are unable to complete an online application or upload proof of your circumstances online, you can make a telephone application by calling the council’s household support fund helpline on 023 9268 8010.

You must submit your application by 12:00 noon on 15 March 2024. Due to limited funding, the Household Support Fund living costs payment scheme may close earlier than this, if all the funds have been given out. Full details of the scheme are included in the Household Support Fund living costs payment scheme policy.

Other help and support

If you’re below state pension age and receive Disability Living Allowance (either for yourself or a child) or Personal Independence Payments, you could qualify for our new energy costs payment for disabled people. You will be able to apply for £150 to help with your energy costs. The scheme is not yet open for applications, but you can leave your email address to be notified when it opens.

We’re also providing funding for local organisations that are already supporting people with the cost of living, including foodbanks and community pantries, to help their work. Local services are listed at our Help with Food page.

We’re using household support funding to give more people access to home energy advice visits. To find out how to save energy and money, visit Switched on Portsmouth or call the freephone helpline on 0800 260 5907.

Find advice and help

Portsmouth City Council has a dedicated cost of living hub and helpline, to support residents who are worried about money.

You can also find free money advice and see where to get support on our money advice page. This advice can help you save money, deal with debt and make sure you’re receiving everything you’re entitled to.

If you are struggling to afford household items or other essentials, look at our directory for local and national services that could help.

For advice on how to save energy and cut the cost of gas and electricity bills, you can visit Switched on Portsmouth. If you are on a low income or get a disability benefit, you may also be eligible for a free home energy advice visit.

The HIVE directory is a great place to find local groups and organisations supporting our communities across Portsmouth.