More than 1,300 residents of Blackburn with Darwen accessed £3.2 million of cash support from the council to ease the impact of the cost of living crisis in the past 12 months.

They asked for help to pay for food, white goods, children's beds and energy bills.

The authority's health and well-being boss Cllr Damian Talbot revealed the figures in a report on the government financed Household Support Fund (HSF) 2023/2024 to the borough's full Council Forum on Thursday night.

He told councillors: "HSF4 covers April 23 to March 24 and is providing £3.2m of direct financial support available to residents to support with the cost of living crisis.

"At present the HSF national funding is only in place until March 2024.

"The primary route to access this support is through an online application process which provides a bespoke, strength-based and trauma-informed service to support residents.

"This ‘front door’ is referred to as the Help Hub."

Cllr Talbot detailed how so far in the 2023/24 financial year:

  • The team have processed 1,373 applications and responded to over 300 phone calls;
  • 96 per cent of households that apply receive financial benefit from the scheme covering aspects including food, white goods, children’s beds, gas and electric payments, fuel efficiency, finance, benefit and debt support, employment and well-being;
  • 31 per cent of applicants have someone in the household in work (this includes over 90 Blackburn with Darwen Council employees);
  • 63 per cent are households with children; and
  • 42 per cent of households supported report someone in the house with a disability.

"A supplementary payment to electricity support is now also given to any household that has an electric aid that supports their disability with increased electric usage," he continued.

"The fund has supported schools to extend and fill gaps in the free school meals and holiday activities food provision.

"More than 7,000 extra pupils, from 3,000 families, have benefited from this support and been provided with a hot meal for free at their school."

Livesey with Pleasington Conservative, Cllr Derek Hardman, said: "It's great news that the residents of the borough are making good use of the government-funded Household Support Fund.

"I think it's much needed."

Cllr Talbot said: "It is good to have the support but I would much rather we weren't in the position we are in that we need the support in the first place.

"It just shows the struggles people are facing in the country that we have to gave hand outs from government. We shouldn't be in this position in the first place."