Councils pledge wide ranging winter support for more people than ever

Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Councils, working alongside other councils, agencies and organisations, are planning to support many families and individuals whose lives have been made more difficult by the COVID pandemic this year.

Coronavirus

More people than ever before will be supported - thanks to the imaginative way that the two Councils plan on using the Winter Support government grant - working closely with other local councils, the community and district hub network and voluntary organisations in the area.

They will provide Winter Support Packages to families to make sure that, not only no child goes hungry this year whether they are eligible for free school meals or in a range of other categories, but also that families and individuals who might struggle with other essential bills, such as utilities, can be supported.

The food support will come via a voucher sent to families automatically, using a system many schools are already using. Each eligible child will receive a £15 voucher for each week of the school holidays (two weeks at Christmas and one week in February).

Those eligible for the voucher will be those who receive:

  • Funded Childcare and Education for 2-year-olds under the income based criteria (children aged 2)
  • Early Years Pupil Premium under the income based criteria (children aged 3 and 4)
  • Free School Meals (children and young people aged 4 to 16)
  • 16-19 students in Sixth Forms eligible for Free School meals or for the 16+ bursary (young people aged 16 to 19).

In addition to the Food Vouchers, the scheme is also available to support these same families and individuals with other immediate needs, including (but not limited to) other essential supplies and food, household energy and water bills, essential white goods such as fridges or cookers and boiler servicing and repairs.

Those eligible for this additional support will include:

  • Households who receive income-related benefits
  • Households facing financial hardship - who councils are aware of
  • Families identified as 'just about managing' by schools
  • Anyone with an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Care Leavers
  • Young Carers
  • People with 'No Recourse to Public Funds' status - such as asylum seekers

Councillor Simon Bywater, Chairman Children and Young People Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "It's been an incredibly challenging year for many of us and it's vital that we can provide support to everyone who needs it."

Although 80% of the grant is aimed at children or families with children, the councils are widening the remit to support a wide range of others in the community in need - and not just for the short term - with the backing of Cllr Irene Walsh Peterborough's Cabinet Member for Communities and Cllr Steve Criswell, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Communities and Partnership Committee.

Part of the funding is also being allocated to other organisations to help people who are struggling with debt and unemployment issues to make longer term changes to their lives - although this will not be a condition of receiving the immediate help people may need.

Any remaining funding will be allocated to families and those who need support through existing organisations in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - such as Citizen's Advice - who are already best placed to support with access to food and utility bills.

"This excellent scheme supports the work already being done across our communities and throughout the pandemic and will be a tremendous help." said Cllr Walsh

"It is Think Communities, in action," agreed Cllr Criswell. "With both councils determined to put the money straight into the places and the communities where it will help most."

If you are a Cambridgeshire resident and feel you may need support this winter and wish to receive more information about how to access this, fill out the online form the Cambridgeshire County Council website. Alternatively, you can call the Fenland District Council COVID-19 Community Hub on 01354 654321 or email: covid19@fenland.gov.uk

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