Funding from Government has been provided to councils, allowing families struggling to afford food and essentials over the Christmas period to access support in Northumberland.
The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will see councils across England share a total of £170 million in additional, ring-fenced funding to help vulnerable families and individuals, with NCC receiving a total of £992,515.
This will prevent children from going hungry this winter and ensure local families get the help they need. It builds on the £63 million already provided to councils this year to assist those struggling to buy food and essentials.
To support people during this challenging time, the Conservative government has invested more than £280 billion to protect people’s jobs and incomes through the furlough scheme, grants for the self-employed and other support for business and a £7.4 billion injection to strengthen the welfare safety net this year.
Commenting, a Northumberland Council Cabinet Member, Cllr Nick Oliver, said:
“This is welcome support from the government that will go a long way to helping families in Northumberland. The Conservative administration at County Hall has worked hard to ensure that residents don’t suffer more than they need to, despite a number of challenges.
“The council has already benefitted from millions of pounds of additional support from government to help with the added pressures Covid has provided. When the council stepped up to provide support for families eligible for free school meals we faced opposition, but we were proud to ensure no child in Northumberland went hungry and this money will help us do so again.”
Commenting, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said:
“No child should have to worry about food or warmth this winter.
“We have worked with Councils across England to ensure the £170 million Covid Winter Grant delivers well-targeted support as quickly as possible, primarily focusing on heating and eating for disadvantaged families with children.”
“Our £170 million commitment builds on the £63 million already given to councils earlier this year and will ensure families get the help they need so that no one goes hungry this winter”
The grants are focused on helping families buy essentials, with at least 80% of funds ring-fenced to be spent on food, energy and water bills, with 20% available for other associated essential costs. Councils can also offer support to vulnerable individuals and households without children.
This is all part of the Government’s long-term plan to tackle poor health, hunger and education. In addition to the Covid Winter Grant Scheme, from Easter 2021 the Holiday Activities and Food Fund will be expanded with £220m of funding to cover the major school holidays that year. This will help disadvantaged children get healthy food and take part in fun and enriching activities.
Healthy Start scheme payments are also set to increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April, and the government has pledged additional funding of £16m for the food distribution charity FareShare.
Devolved administrations have received equivalent funding through the upfront funding guarantee, which was recently increased to £16bn for the year to support their Covid-19 response.