Decision details

Surrey County Council Response to Covid: COVID Winter Support Grant Extension

Decision Maker: Executive Director Resources, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning Decisions, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Families, Cabinet Member for Resources & Corporate Support, Executive Director Children, Families Lifelong Learning and Culture

Decision status: Recommendations approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

1.    On Monday 22 February 2021, the government announced that as part of its COVID roadmap, the COVID Winter Grant (CWG) Scheme will be extended to the 16 April 2021, providing an additional £59.1 million of extra targeted financial support for those in need during the pandemic.

 

2.    The CWG Scheme, originally  announced in November 2020, provided £170 million to councils to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy and water bills and other associated costs during the Coronavirus pandemic. The original scheme was due to end on the 31 March 2021 and this has now been extended to the 16 April 2021.

 

3.    Surrey County Council was awarded £2.1m in the first announcement and was notified of a further allocation of £739k from the extension in early March.  Funding is paid in instalments and dependent on the Council returning reporting on how the funding is being spent, in line with specific grant conditions.

 

4.    DWP guidance on the grant is summarised below:

  • At least 80% of the grant must be allocated to households with children; up to 20% may be allocated to households without children or individuals.  Care leavers up to the age of 25 are not classified as children for the purposes of this grant.
  • At least 80% of the grant must be allocated for food or utility bills; up to 20% of the grant can be allocated for other financial needs.
  • Local authorities may determine the groups they consider most vulnerable and the thresholds for support, however feeding children is a key aim of the grant.  The funding is not means tested.

 

5.    Proposals were developed and approved in November/December 2020 for tranche 1 funding, through consultation throughout the Council, with the LRF, the Welfare Cell and Headteachers.

 

6.    Allocations for tranches 2 & 3 were agreed in early March based on further consultation and the positive impact made by the initial allocations.

 

7.    This paper seeks approval for the allocation of the extension funding of £739,234.

 

Proposals:

8.    There was strong support from school leaders and welfare rights leads for food vouchers for children in receipt of benefit related free school meals.  They considered these a very effective means of targeting and distributing food support for children in very financially vulnerable households during the school holidays.  

 

9.    In addition, for low income families with children in early years (2 years old receiving Funded Early Education Provision and 3 & 4 year olds on EY Pupil Premium) SCC holds data on these children and can target support via Early Years providers.

 

 

10.  The Council made a commitment to continue to support vulnerable households during the school holidays, including 1 week in February half term and the distribution of vouchers in March in advance of the 2 week Easter holidays in April.  This was funded from the initial grant allocation.

 

11.  It is proposed that the support offered to these families over Easter is increased, to enable additional food vouchers to be provided to support the purchase of additional meals, such as a healthy breakfast and/or a hot evening meal, providing extra support over and above the commitment to support families with lunches during the Easter holidays.

 

12.  In addition, as was done over Christmas, it is proposed that we further support our Care Leavers with similar amounts by providing £30 per week per care leaver (so £60 for the Easter period).

 

Decision:

Decision made:

 

It was AGREED that:

 

The following allocations would be made from the COVID Winter Support Grant extension:

 

Children entitled to Free School Meals

£0.55m

Low income families with children in early years settings

£0.06m

Care Leavers

£0.04m

Available for food banks &/or VCFS

£0.09

 

£0.74m

 

Reasons for the decision:

Reasons for Decision:

To assist those most in need of assistance with the purchase of food and other essential items during the winter months, with a particular focus on families with children, in line with the DWP grant conditions.

Alternative options considered:

The alternative is to not accept the funding allocation from DWP which would reduce the ability of the Council to support those in the County most in need, particularly families with Children, of assistance with the purchase of food and other essentials.

 

A number of allocation mechanisms were considered, but the proposal above was deemed to provide the most impact and coverage across the County.

Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:

None.

Publication date: 30/03/2021

Date of decision: 17/03/2021