Extra government support for families in need in time for Christmas

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The £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme announced last month is now in action, as vulnerable families across England get help through councils.

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 of November 2020, helping councils from Cornwall to Cumbria to support vulnerable people this Christmas and beyond.

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 2021. The money is distributed to local authorities based on population size, whilst also weighting for deprivation in the local area.

The government say this is all part of their 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 2021, 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.

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