Herefordshire councillors, including the minority Conservative administration, have voted unanimously to urge Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to keep in place a government fund for needy families that is due to be axed later this year.

Mr Hunt’s Budget last week gave a six-month reprieve to the Household Support Fund, introduced in 2021 but which had been due to stop at the end of this month.

A motion before last Friday’s (March 8) full meeting of county councillors put forward by Green group leader Coun Ellie Chowns said the fund “has been providing vital support to help vulnerable households cope with the rising cost of living”.

Her motion also called on the Chancellor to better fund councils such as Herefordshire, “to support our essential services for residents”.

“The cost of living will still be rising on October 1,” Coun Chowns said, adding it was local food banks who raised the issue with her.

Conservative councillor Carole Gandy said Herefordshire’s two Tory MPs had lobbied to have the fund continued, adding that a further extension to the fund may come anyway after an Autumn statement or indeed general election.

But she acknowledged that the fund, managed locally by the Herefordshire Community Foundation, “helps some of the most vulnerable in our community, with energy costs and household appliances”.