Cherilyn Mackrory, Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth has welcomed the news that children and families in Cornwall will get extra support this winter, with Cornwall Council given £1.8million funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items from the Government’s £170million Covid Winter Grant Scheme.
Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable from the Government via councils 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.
“I welcome this extension to our existing funding, which will help families in need in Truro and Falmouth at this time. Crucially, it will not just be limited to families that were eligible for free school meals, but will also be available for families that are not normally but have encountered difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, something that I have been working with colleagues to make the case to the Government for.”
“I am pleased the Government has come forward with this solution now to tackle the immediate issue, as well as the further work being done to expand The Holiday Activities and Food programme for 2021, rise in Healthy Start payments and continued funding for food distribution charities.”
“I look forward to working with Cornwall Council to ensure the funding received reaches those who need it most.”
Work and Pensions Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, said:
“We want to make sure vulnerable people feel cared for throughout this difficult time and, above all, no one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter.”
“We know this has been a challenging time for many, and we have consistently supported the lowest-paid families, protecting 9 million jobs with furlough and boosting welfare support by £9.3 billion.”
“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.”