Laura Sharman 09 November 2020

Councils welcome £170m COVID winter grant scheme

A new £170m COVID winter grant scheme will be distributed to councils to stop children going hungry during the second wave of the pandemic.

At least 80% of the funding will be used to help families pay for bills and provide food for children over the holidays.

The Government has confirmed the Holiday Activities and Food programme will be expanded across England next year, while Healthy Start scheme payments will increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April.

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.’

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: ’The winter grant will allow councils to use the funding in the best way to help families and individuals most in need in their local community, including putting plans in place to ensure children will not go hungry in the Christmas holidays and February half-term.

’The uplift to the Healthy Start Vouchers, which is what the LGA has previously called for before the pandemic, and the extension to the Holiday Activities and Food programme, will help children enjoy a healthy lifestyle from a young age.’

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been lobbying the Government to extend free school meals.

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