The warning comes from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which says in its annual report that a sustained fall in poverty has not been seen in two decades, and that the number of people considered to be living in very deep poverty has risen in that period.
Its analysis of official data shows that more than a fifth of people in the UK were living in poverty in 2021/22, including around two in every 10 adults and about three in every 10 children.
This means around 14.4 million people in total, including 8.1 million working-age adults, 4.2 million children and 2.1 million pensioners, were living in households below 60 per cent of the median income after housing costs.
The Government launched the Household Support Fund in September 2021 with £500 million to help vulnerable households with winter essentials such as food, clothing and utilities. The funding is distributed by local authorities in England, and to the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It has been extended twice, and is due to expire at the end of March.
Cllr Pete Marland, Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “We have long called for a sufficiently resourced national safety net for low-income households and those who cannot work, as the JRF report recommends, allowing councils to target vital local welfare support to the most vulnerable.
“Given demand for this support remains at record levels, councils are united in the view that the Household Support Fund must be extended for at least another year.
“Ultimately, councils want to shift the focus from providing crisis support to investing in preventative services that improve residents’ financial resilience and life chances.
“However, without an urgent extension of the Household Support Fund, there is an immediate risk of more households falling into financial crisis, homelessness and poverty.”