Local MP Robert Largan has backed funding from the Government for families struggling over the Christmas period in High Peak.
The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will see councils across England share a total of £170 million in additional, ring-fenced funding to help vulnerable families and individuals, with Derbyshire receiving a total of £2.2 million.
This will 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.
Like many other local authorities, Derbyshire will provide funding to families most in need via a £30 electronic shopping voucher per child who is eligible for free school meals, for the Christmas holiday period. As well as providing food vouchers to school-age children who qualify for free school meals because of low family income, Derbyshire has extended the Christmas scheme to include care leavers and pre-school children (2-4 years) whose families are suffering financial hardship.
Almost 26,000 children in Derbyshire are expected to benefit from the scheme. A further shopping voucher will be issued in February and the voucher amount will depend on the number of Derbyshire children eligible at that time. The Derbyshire scheme went fully live on Tuesday 15 December, emailing or texting electronic vouchers to eligible parents and sending out proactive communications.
Robert Largan MP commented:
“People on all sides of the political divide recognise the serious challenge of food poverty and agree that action is needed. We only disagree on the best way of helping people.
“No child should ever go hungry, which is why it is very welcome that Derbyshire County Council has now received additional support to help people in High Peak.
“I will continue to work with the Government to ensure that local families get the support they need, not just through the pandemic, but as we recover, rebuild, and level up communities across the country.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary, Therese Coffey MP, commented:
“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.”
“Our £170 million commitment builds on the £63 million already given to councils earlier this year and will ensure families get the help they need so that no one goes hungry this winter.”
The grants are focused on helping families buy essentials, with at least 80 per cent of funds ring-fenced to be spent on food, energy and water bills, with 20 per cent available for other associated essential costs. Councils can also offer support to vulnerable individuals and households without children.
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 £220 million 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.