Sheffield City Council has received a Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant from the government through DEFRA. The award amount is £774,649.19, and is intended to be spent within this financial year.
The scheme went live on Monday 16th October. Applications will be via the council website along with telephone support on 0114 2734567 for those who are unable to complete the form themselves and who don’t have anyone else to support hem with this.
The key eligibility criteria and further details about awards are below:
An applicant must be resident in Sheffield.
They must be able to reasonably demonstrate that they are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to Covid-19. This includes the provision of bank statements for example, and completion of an income and expenditure. If an applicant is working with a support agency who has already compiled an income and expenditure, this may be submitted in support of the application.
The Council has not stipulated an upper income limit, as it understands people may have financial obligations which were entered into at a time when they could meet those obligations, but that Covid-19 may have affected their ability to meet these.
The award level will be determined according to the need and circumstances of the applicant, but will not exceed £1000 unless there are very exceptional circumstances. Awards exceeding £1000 will be subject to application volumes and fund availability.
In general, it is expected that only one grant can be issued per household. However, if there are very exceptional circumstances, then subject to the award value of previous grants, application volume and fund availability, further grants may be awarded.
When the Council has received all the necessary information and evidence, it will aim for a maximum of two working days to process an application and make a decision. If an application is very urgent, for example an applicant has very little means of accessing food, it will aim to process within one working day, or will refer for other urgent assistance to alleviate the emergency.
The Council will make awards in a variety of ways, depending on the purpose of the award. These will usually be:
– a bank transfer to the applicant’s bank account, or a landlord’s bank account, which would take 3 working days to clear
– a faster payment CHAPS bank transfer in exceptionally urgent circumstances, and subject to approval
– provision of supermarket vouchers or travel vouchers
– provision of cash
– provision of goods such as furniture and appliances through the council’s furnished team
The Council will seek to use the most appropriate method of award, according to its judgements around administrative ease, fraud prevention and in consideration of the applicant’s circumstances.
As previously stated, we expect that the main areas where the Council make awards will be as follows:
1. Food and housekeeping
2. Gas and electricity
3. Essential travel
5. Essential furniture / white goods
6. Telephone and broadband
7. Rent arrears where there is a risk of eviction
8. Rent in advance and tenancy deposits
This is not an exhaustive list, and the Council will make decisions using flexibility and reasonableness.
As the Council has set the scheme up in a short amount of time, it is aware that it is unlikely to be perfect at launch, and issues may potentially arise. There may be things that the Council hasn’t thought of, and questions and problems that arise. Therefore, it is possible that amendments may be made to aspects of the scheme over time.
Right to Review
As the scheme is being implemented using the Local Assistance Scheme policy, which provides a right of review, there will be a right of review of decisions made on applications for Emergency Assistance Grants. Review requests should be submitted within 28 days of date of the decision letter.
Thank you for your support, and we look forward to working with you in the utilisation of the fund.
Housing Solutions, Sheffield City Council