FOOD prices are creeping up as the cost of living rises, meaning many are searching for ways to cut back on costs.
Grocery bills have soared by 11% to a further £533 per year – the quickest leap since 2008.
Council areas cut back on food voucher funding as the cost of living crisis takes its tollCredit: Paul Rogers – The Times
Families are now forking out an additional £10.25 every week if they buy the same products as last year, according to research firm Kantar.
It has reported a 19.7% increase in the sale of own-label value products as shoppers looking to make savings.
It comes as the cost of everyday essentials such as food and fuel soar due to rising inflation.
To tackle this staggering increase, some local councils offer food vouchers for struggling school kids.
It depends on where you live, so you’ll need to phone up and check.
If you’re not sure which council you belong to, you can check with this local council tool. All you need to do is pop in your post code.
But, do note, roughly 32 councils out of 152 English councils have reduced the value of their summer food vouchers from last year, and 11 have scrapped them altogether, said BBC News.
It’s worth looking into other ways help with your food costs too, like meal prepping, which can cut your normal food bill in half.
But in terms of food vouchers, the ones we’ve found are available through the Household Support Fund – a £1billion fund meant to help Brits pay their way through winter amid a cost of living crisis.
You’ll need to apply through your local council – as local authorities are in charge of distributing the funding.
There should be information on your council website about how to apply for the funding.
Each council will have a different application process – so exact details on how to apply will vary depending on where you live.
We’ve listed four councils who offer food vouchers – although reduced – to those who are struggling with low income.
It’s worth noting that many of these decreases have happened during the six-week term break.
You should call up and check how much food vouchers are worth now that schools are going back if you find this funding affects you.
Vulnerable families living in the Shropshire Council area were claiming food vouchers worth up to £45.
Beforehand, residents could claim vouchers worth £90, but the money has been re-allocated to help pensioners too, says the Shropshire Star.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council cabinet member for children and education, said: “The Government’s Household Support Fund (HSF) is distributed to councils in England to directly help those who need it most.
“Distributed via schools, eligible families will receive funding for three weeks of the summer holidays. The value of these vouchers will be £45 per child.
“We recognise that some families will be disappointed that we are not able to fund the full six weeks as we did last year.
“The HSF must support the most vulnerable households in Shropshire and as set out by Government, we will now also be making payments to eligible pensioners.”
Oldham school meal vouchers were being offered as an extra £7 per week.
Oldham Council’s vouchers showed one of the biggest drops in UK councils – from £90 to £40 per child over six weeks.
In 2021, 13,000 school children in the area were in receipt of free school meals – nearly 30% of its population.
Cllr Abdul Jabbar MBE, Cabinet Member for Finance said: “We know how crucial it is to support families through the summer holidays, especially those on low incomes.
“With increased childcare and food costs to contend with, the holiday period can be a very challenging time for many households, particularly during a Cost of Living crisis.
“That’s why we’re running summer Holiday Activities and Food sessions across the borough, where children can enjoy a range of activities and also receive a healthy hot meal.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing that, due to Government changes to the Household Support Fund, we have had to reduce the value of the vouchers available to eligible families for food over the summer holidays.
“We are not alone in having to do this, and other Councils have even had to stop their vouchers altogether. We wouldn’t be in this position if Government was more willing to help those vulnerable families who desperately need support.”
Dudley Council provided holiday food vouchers for £75 per child for six weeks, down from £90.
A council spokesperson said: “In 2021 we received more funding and were able to supply £90 of vouchers for the six weeks.
“It’s important to us that children on free school meals shouldn’t feel left out socially either which is why through our Child Friendly Dudley initiative we are working with Dudley Council for Voluntary Services (DCVS) to offer a Holiday Activity Fun (HAF) programme to these children.
“They can take part in 16 activity sessions each delivered by more than 80 cultural and heritage sites, community groups and in school holiday clubs. More than 5,000 children have registered for the scheme.”
Coventry Council cut down its funding by a fifth per child this year, offering £15.40 less in summer holiday food vouchers.
A spokesperson for Coventry City Council said the money that went on vouchers is “what was affordable.”
They said: “Food vouchers covering the summer term holidays, have been awarded to the families of children who are eligible for free school meals.”
Eligible families were receiving two lots of funding – £15 in May and £55 in July. The total value was £70, however last year it was £85.40.
The spokesperson said: “This food voucher support is resourced from the DWP Household Support Fund which is also used to provide cost of living support to other vulnerable residents within the city.
“The award of £70 is what was affordable from the grant in order to strike the right balance between providing food to support families with children, whilst also providing suitable support for food, energy and other related essentials to other vulnerable families and individuals across the city.”
It’s worth calling up your local council to double check you’re not missing out on any other funding as well, especially if you’re on low income.
For example, you might be entitled to free school uniform – the money you get varies between councils but you could, for example, nab up to £150 if you live in Scotland.