County Council pledges wide ranging winter support for more people than ever
Published: 10 December 2020
Cambridgeshire County Council is launching a new scheme to support many families and individuals whose lives have been made more difficult by the COVID pandemic this year. More people than ever before will be supported - thanks to the imaginative way that the Council plans on using the Winter Support government grant. They will provide Winter Support Packages to families to make sure that, not only all children have access to food 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). We will be using a system call Wonde which schools and parents will be familiar with.
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, as well as many more, with other immediate needs, including (but not limited to) other essential supplies and food, household energy and water bills and essential white goods. In addition to those listed above, 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
To ensure they are reaching vulnerable families and individuals across Cambridgeshire, the County Council has also sent letters to parents with children in school. There is also a frequently asked question list.
The letters also provide further clarity on the eligibility criteria for early years and post 16 support to ensure the right children who need support are allocated vouchers. Similar letters have been sent to early years settings and colleges. As colleges have existing systems for allocating support, these have been used instead of the Wonde voucher system.
The County Council is investing in organisations that are already supporting families. Anyone in need of additional support can access it through this scheme using an online form. Cambridgeshire residents can fill out the form https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/coronavirus/winter-grant-scheme
Alternatively, you can call 0345 045 5219.