More than £1m in grant funding has been accepted by Rotherham Council’s ruling cabinet to help the local authority support those struggling to afford food and bills.
Covid-19 has caused many to fall into financial hardship, with the council taking active steps to help support them and offer a helping hand for food, debt, utility bills and school uniform.
The scheme was approved at the council’s cabinet meeting on December 10, 2020.
Councillor Saghir Alam reportedly raised during the meeting: “For a number of families struggling through the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, having what would be regarded as a normal Christmas [will be] difficult.”
The grant forms part of a wider £170m Covid-19 winter grant scheme, with the money being given to families struggling to afford food and utility bills or other essentials from December to March 2021.
During the meetings, the councillors agreed to split into categories:
- £492,500 for holiday programmes and food
- £285,000 for utility bills or debt
- £200,000 for school uniforms
- £30,000 for Christmas food
Leader of Rotherham Council, Councillor Chris Read, reportedly told the meeting: “We’re really keen to get this money into the pockets of Rotherham residents who need it as quickly as possible.
“When our budget was the equivalent of £200m a year more, there might have been more of this action that we could have taken within the borough, and we’ve had a government that’s spent 10 years telling us that the people with the lowest incomes are the people who are least deserving of government spending, and it took Marcus Rashford and a global pandemic to turn things around.”
Rotherham Council have reportedly agreed for 80% of the cash to be ring-fenced to support families with children, with 20% of the total grant available to other households experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, poverty during the pandemic.
At least 80% of the money is required to be ring-fenced to provide support with food, energy and water bills, and 20% 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.