Disadvantaged children and hard-hit families in Wirral are set to benefit from two new programmes that target support at those most in need, following the latest campaign by Marcus Rashford.
Wirral Council should receive its share of a new £170m Covid Winter Grant within the next three weeks – and 80% must be used to support households with the cost of food and bills up to March 2021.
The money will allow specialist organisations in Wirral to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.
It follows an extra £453,000 given to Wirral Council in July from the emergency assistance grant for food and essential supplies for struggling families.
Meanwhile, the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which has been running in Wirral and 16 other councils since 2018 supporting 50,000 children, will be expanded to cover all parts of England.
The programme has seen healthy food and activities provided to disadvantaged children and, in Wirral, Halton and Cheshire West it has been delivered by specialist schools provider Edsential.
It will cover school holidays at Easter, Summer and Christmas 2021, and cost up to £220m.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, added: "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.
Nationally, people have been helped with 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, including:
- 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 2021
- Increasing Universal Credit and Tax Credits by up to £1,000 this year
- £63m for councils to provide emergency assistance to families, pensioners and the most vulnerable with food, essentials and meals
- 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.
- Local authorities understand which groups need support, and are best placed to ensure appropriate holiday support is provided – which is why the £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be distributed by them, rather than schools, who will continue providing meals disadvantaged children during term-time.