Torbay’s MP Kevin Foster has welcomed a package of measures announced by the Government today (Sunday 8 November 2020) to provide additional support to vulnerable families and children in Torbay over the winter and into 2021.
Children and families will get extra support this winter, with Torbay Council given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items, along with the flexibility to decide how best to use it.
Three key announcements were made today:
- £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter.
Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable 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.
Local Councils will receive the funding at the beginning of December and be responsible for distributing them. This 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. Schools will continue providing meals for disadvantaged children during term-time.
This funding builds on the £63m of grant support given to Councils earlier this year, including Torbay Council, who received £185,466 which it used to support families struggling to afford food and basic essentials.
- Holiday Activities and Food programme to be expanded, covering Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021:
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 summer’s, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.
- Healthy Start payments set to rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021
Healthy Start scheme payments are also set to increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April. 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.
Welcoming the news, Torbay’s MP Kevin Foster said:
“These announcements are very welcome, especially the ability of local Councils, including Torbay Council, to decide how best to use funds allocated to support families in the best way possible with their communities. We have seen the way the £185,466 allocated earlier this year by the Government to Torbay Council was used locally and the benefits of this approach in supporting the work of local groups.”
“I look forward to confirmation of the amount Torbay will receive from this round of funding allocated and the wider support for families.”
- Action to Support Families:
Ministers have also taken unprecedented measures during the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable, and put in place a strong package of financial support to support families and children. This includes:
- Protecting millions of jobs and livelihoods through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employed Income Support Scheme, which have been extended until March
- Increasing Universal Credit and Tax Credits by up to £20 a week this year
- £63m for councils to provide emergency assistance to families, pensioners and the most vulnerable with food, essentials and meals
- Extending free school meals support to those eligible when schools closed during lockdown
- Increasing Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and housing benefit claimants, so it covers the lowest 30% of local rents –benefiting over 1 million households by on average £600 this year.
- Funding Earlier this year
In July 2020, Torbay received £185,000 from the UK Governments Food Grant fund to strengthen our resilience around food poverty during the coronavirus outbreak. It recently outlined how this is being used: