Families will receive a boost of over £50 million this Easter, with councils given additional funding to keep vulnerable children warm and well-fed.
The scheme, which was introduced in response to the current pandemic, primarily focuses on food and essential utility bills for low-income families. It has meant that councils can ensure that children in their area have the essentials they need.
This new funding comes in addition to the £170 million already allocated to the scheme from December until the end of March, and is on top of the previously announced Holiday Activities and Food Programme to support disadvantaged children during the Easter period.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey said:
The scheme will now run until Friday 16 April. The grants are primarily for 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.
Every local authority involved in the scheme has already used it to provide food for vulnerable children. In addition, many areas provided further support thanks to the scheme, including white goods being supplied to vulnerable families in Cheshire East, and the creation of a winter clothing fund for children in Telford and Wrekin.
During the first two months of the scheme half the £170 million was spent, with almost two and a half million vulnerable households benefitting. Based on local authority reporting for this period, 95% of funding spent has been provided to families with children, and 95% of funding has been used to support households with food or utility bills.
The Government say this is all part of their long-term plan to tackle poor health, hunger and education. In addition to the now-extended COVID Winter Grant Scheme, the Holiday Activities and Food Programme has been expanded to cover the major school holidays in 2021 – starting with this Easter.
The HAF provides local authorities with grants they can use to arrange childcare provision, provide valuable support to families on lower incomes, and give children the opportunity to access rewarding activities alongside healthy meals over the school holidays.