Families in need are getting extra government support in time for Christmas

·         £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme announced last month already in action as vulnerable families across England get help through councils

·         “No child should have to worry about food or warmth this winter” says Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey

·         Eating and heating are priorities for the scheme, backed by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Supermarket vouchers, winter clothing and funding for utility bills are among the support now being offered to vulnerable families through the government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme (CWGS) announced last month.

Millions of pounds from the CWGS reached local authority bank accounts at the end November, helping councils from Cornwall to Cumbria to support vulnerable people this Christmas and beyond. Examples of funded schemes include:

·         In Essex parents of children age 0-5 are being given Home-Start packages which include basic supplies and winter warmer packs for babies, and Christmas food and gift hampers for care leavers.

·         Telford and Wrekin is set to help more than 10,000 vulnerable children and young people with £360,000 of funding towards £30 supermarket vouchers. It’s also providing a winter clothing fund for children amid concerns that a high number of local children were coming to school without appropriate clothing.

·         Wirral is making £200,000 available to help low-paid households who are struggling to cover water or energy bills, with support being led by their local branch of Citizens Advice.

·         Sutton is offering £150 in food vouchers to each family entering emergency accommodation. The council are also topping up the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme, designed to help residents in need get help with food, fuel and replacement white goods.

·         In Somerset apprentices and young people (aged 16-18) who are not in employment, education or training are receiving vouchers, which will support them through the coldest months.

·         Herefordshire Council is purchasing £75 local supermarket vouchers to cover the Christmas period for families. The council will then use some remaining funds to provide additional support for households who are struggling with utility costs.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse 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.”

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.

The remainder of the funds will be given in 2021, as the scheme is designed to run until the end of March. The money is distributed to local authorities based on population size, whilst also weighting for deprivation in the local area.

Wider Support

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.