£1m to help families struggling with food, bills and school uniforms at Christmas

Rotherham Council has been granted more that £1m to help those struggling to afford food and bills.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 4:45 pm

Those who have taken a financial hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be given a helping hand for food, debt, utility bills and school uniform.

The cash is part of the government’s a £170 million Covid wintergrant scheme, and money will be given from December to March for those struggling to afford food and utility bills or other essentials.

At a meeting of Rotherham Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on December 2, it was recommend that the grant be split into categories; £492,395.16 for holiday programmes and food, £285,000 for utility bills or debt, £200,000 for school uniforms and £30,000 for Christmas food.

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Rotherham Town Hall. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Councillor Chris Read, leader of the council: “We’ve had very little time to work up schemes but we are very keen for the money to be distributed to those who need it before Christmas.

“We’ve got Marcus Rashford to thank for this coming forward. This is very welcome funding, I think it will be well received by people who need it.

“We’ve put in place some voucher support for families who were struggling with the cost of buying school uniforms, that was predominantly targeted at children who are starting school.

“We’re proposing to extend that out so children of all ages based on the same sort of criteria would be eligible for the support.

“What we’re trying to do is to put some funding in place to stop families from falling from very difficult financial circumstances, into a real crisis, where big utility bills are not manageable.

“The real increase in unemployment that we’re all expected to see has started. I think we’re probably months away from that finishing.

“All being well we can have this up and running from the back end of next week and certainly the week after, which means that families will be able to receive this financial support in time for Christmas.”

A report to the meeting suggested that at least 80 per cent of the cash will be ring-fenced to support families with children, with 20 per cent of the total funding to other households experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, poverty during the pandemic.

At least 80 percent of the money is required to be ring-fenced to provide support with food, energy and water bills, and 20 per cent for other essentials, such as sanitary products, toiletries, blankets and warm clothing.

Families in receipt of free school meals will receive a voucher of £15 per week per child during the Christmas and half term holiday in February.

School uniform vouchers are to be set at £25 each for reception children and £35 each for year seven pupils.

The report will now be discussed at the next cabinet meeting on December 10 under a special urgent motion.

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