Children & Families Cabinet Member – Minutes – 9 December 2020 (Urgt)

15 COVID-19 WINTER GRANT SCHEME – The Director: Children and Community Resilience submitted an urgent report seeking approval for the proposals for the local implementation of the government’s recently announced COVID Winter Grant Scheme.

On Sunday 8 November 2020, the government announced the introduction of the £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme – a package of extra targeted financial support for those in need over the winter period. The funding allocation for North Lincolnshire was £532,566, which was due to be released in the first week of December 2020 and would run until the end of March 2021.

Government guidance issued by the Department of Work and Pensions stated that ‘the objective of the COVID Winter Grant Scheme was to provide support to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic throughout the winter period where alternative sources of assistance may be unavailable’. The clear focus of the scheme was to help those in most need with the cost of food, energy, water bills (including sewerage) and other essentials.

Considerable flexibilities had been given to councils in determining their own local eligibility framework and approach, with the ability to deliver the scheme through vouchers or grants, or other mechanisms. The main requirements were that at least 80% must be spent on families with children, with up to 20% for households without children, which included care leavers and under 25’s with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND). The guidance supported councils in working with other local organisations to deliver the scheme, and to use local knowledge and data to identify and prioritise support for specific vulnerable groups.

The report set out details of the proposed approach for delivering the scheme in North Lincolnshire.

The matter was urgent due to the requirement set out in government guidance, published on 20 November 2020, to begin administering the scheme in early December 2020.

Resolved – That the COVID Winter Grant Scheme local eligibility framework and approach set out in the report, be approved.