Funding from Government has been provided to Cumbria County Council, allowing families struggling to afford food and essentials over the Christmas period to access support in Copeland.
As part of the Government’s £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme, Cumbria County Council has received £1,496,417.79 of ring-fenced funding, with at least 80 per cent being earmarked to support families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.
The funding, which has been distributed to councils by the Department for Work and Pensions has allowed Cumbria County Council to establish the following set of schemes:
Free School Meal vouchers over the Christmas holidays and February half term: All children on a free school meal will receive a voucher to cover the holiday periods. We have entered a contract with WONDE, a company that specialises in ordering and delivering food vouchers direct to households. WONDE will be working with schools in the first two weeks of December to ensure eligible children will receive vouchers.
Provision of £100 energy vouchers: Families will be able to benefit from £100 energy vouchers between 14 December and 31 March. The scheme will be run by Allerdale CAB on behalf of CAB Bureaux in Cumbria, and families signposted by DWP job advisors, CAB advisors and Cumbria’s local track and trace team will receive vouchers to cover heating, water or sewerage costs.
Care leavers and young adults with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: A discretionary fund has been set up to support Children’s Social Care to provide grants to care leavers and young adults with SEND over the winter period.
Grant allocations to County Council Local Committees: Each Area Manager will be responsible for the disbursal of grants to local groups that can provide support to vulnerable adults
Age Concern:* A small allocation has been identified for Age Concern.
These schemes will help to 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 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.
Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, said: “No child should ever go hungry, which is why it is welcome news that Cumbria County Council has now received additional support to help people in Copeland.
“I will continue to work with the Government, communities and our local authority to ensure that families across my constituency continue to get the support they need, not just through the pandemic, but every day of the year.”
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.
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.