Swindon MPs welcome new winter package to provide further support for children and families.
Children and families will get extra support this winter, with councils given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items.
Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, the winter plans includes:
· £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter. This will allow councils to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.
· Holiday Activities and Food programme (£220 million) to be expanded, covering Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021. This programme has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018.
· Healthy Start payments set to rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021 - This scheme supports pregnant women or those with children under four who have a low income and are in receipt of benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
· £16 million for food distribution charities. This involves discussions with FareShare on how this is best distributed.
The government has consistently supported the lowest-paid families throughout the pandemic, with an £9.3bn put into the welfare system.
Ministers have already taken unprecedented measures during the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable, and put in place a strong package of financial support to support families and children.
Protecting millions of jobs and livelihoods through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which have been extended until March 2021 Increasing Universal Credit and Tax Credits by up to £20 a week this year £63m for councils to provide emergency assistance to families, pensioners and the most vulnerable with food, essentials and meals Extending free school meals support to those eligible when schools closed during lockdown Increasing Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and housing benefit claimants, so it covers the lowest 30% of local rents – benefiting over 1 million households by on average £600 this year.
Justin Tomlinson MP commented, “As a Minister in the DWP, I have been working tirelessly to deliver additional support to the most vulnerable families through the welfare system. This package builds on that support, and by extending our successful Holiday Activities and Food programme, as well as funding a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme, we are making sure families get the help they need.”
Robert Buckland MP commented, “I am glad that the government have announced this winter support package, which further builds on the support we have already provided to those most vulnerable families during the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be run by councils in England.
The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period to the end of March 2021. Local Authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December 2020.
It will allow councils to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays. Local councils understand which groups need support, and are best placed to ensure appropriate holiday support is provided – which is why they will distribute the funds, rather than schools, who will continue providing meals for disadvantaged children during term-time.
The Holiday Activities and Food programme, which has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018, will also be expanded across England next year.
It will cover Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021, and cost up to £220m. It will be available to children in every local authority in England, building on previous programmes – including this summers, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.
Healthy Start scheme payments are also set to increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April, 2021.
This scheme supports pregnant women or those with children under four who have a low income and are in receipt of benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. This will help people boost the long-term health of their children.
The Government has also pledged additional funding of £16m for food distribution charities, with conversations with FareShare and others ongoing as to how this is allocated.