PARENTS can apply for extra cash to help them cover the costs of children being home through the Easter holidays.
The Government has added another £59.1million the Covid Winter Grant Scheme fund and extended it to last until April 16.
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Parents can continue to get help with the cost of feeding their family during the Easter holidaysCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The cash can be used by low-income families who rely on free school meals in terms time to cover increased grocery bills during the two week spring break.
It can also be used to help with the cost of energy and water bills.
The grants replace the supermarket vouchers scheme that were issued by schools to cover food bills over the Easter and Summer holidays last year.
How can I apply to the Covid Winter Grant Scheme?
THE support you can get through the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme depends on where you live.
It’s best to contact your local authority directly to ask what help you can get.
If you’re struggling and need help with food or bills it’s worth asking what’s available.
It’s up to each council to decide who is eligible for the help and the kind of support they get.
In some areas you can apply directly to the council for money to pay for food or bills.
For example, in Sutton, families can get up to £150 worth of food vouchers, while Hertfordshire is issuing vouchers worth £75.
Some local authorities are providing vouchers to families they already know are on low incomes and no application is needed.
In other areas the money is funding existing schemes that are supporting people locally, such as food banks.
Many local authorities are doing a combination of these things.
The boost, which sees the total grant scheme pot rise to £229.1million, will be a relief to parents already worried about rising school holiday costs.
But most schools are due to break up for two-weeks over Easter, typically from April 1 until April 16.
The cash is handed out by local authorities across England and payments are worth up to £150 in some areas.
Councils are given different amounts depending on how many people live in the authority and how many of them are struggling financially.
For example, of the latest £59.1million funding boost, Derbyshire has been allocated £758,227 while the City of London has been given £7,011.
The area that has been given the largest amount of cash funding is Birmingham, worth £1,803,918.
Each council decides how much cash it will issue and who is eligible for support.
But broadly the Government has said at least 80% of the cash must go towards families with children.
The remaining 20% of money should go to other households in poverty, or who are at risk of poverty, because of the impact of the pandemic.
While at least four fifths of the cash must be spent on household bills, a portion of the funding can be used to cover the cost of related essentials.
This includes warm clothes and blankets, toiletries like soap and sanitary towels, boiler repairs and services and buying equipment like fridges or ovens.
So far, local authorities have reported that 95% of funding has been given to families with children and the same percentage used to support them with bills.
Councillor Richard Watts of the Local Government Association (LGA), said while the boost is welcome, councils should be given the resource to tackle the underlying issues of poverty in their local areas.
“An effective long-term solution to preventing poverty and disadvantage is needed, which is why the LGA is discussing with government and partners how best to enable councils to provide integrated, preventative support to low-income households, including the potential benefits of providing sustainable local welfare funding of at least £250 million per year.”
The extra funding comes on top of an expansion of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme.
These schemes provide local authorities with grants they can use to arrange childcare provision and healthy meals for struggling families during the school breaks.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey said: “This scheme has helped thousands of vulnerable children stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months of the year.
“While circumstances remain difficult, it is right that we extend it to cover Easter, and I want any worried parent to know there is help at hand.”
It comes after the Government agreed to extend a £20 a week Universal Credit uplift for another six months.
Those still on the old tax credits system will receive one-off payments worth £500 to ensure they get the same amount of support.
Universal Credit claimants will be given 24 months to repay advance loans from April, up from 12 months currently.