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Final extension of Covid Local Support Grant

The government’s Covid Local Support Grant has been extended through to September bringing it in line with the end date for furlough and other Covid-related support.

This is beyond the planned ending of restrictions, to help families get back on their feet as the economy recovers and the vaccine rollout continues.

Across the country, families have been benefiting from the scheme in a number of ways, with support designed by local councils to make sure the needs of the community are met.

Since the beginning of the scheme, support has included food vouchers and help with heating costs over the winter months.

With a new round of funding, councils will be able to continue this support and adapt their offer to suit the needs of families. Those who are in need of support should contact their council to find out how they can access it and what support will be available over the coming months.

The grant was introduced in December 2020 to create new programmes of support tailored to people’s needs in their area. The funding is ring-fenced so that 80% is used to support families with bills for food, key utilities and other essentials.

Minister for welfare delivery Will Quince said: ‘This grant is ensuring that thousands of families get help with food and essential utility bills as we move back towards normality.

‘The new funding extends this lifeline to those most in need in the coming months as we continue to help families back on their feet, including supporting people back into work through our multi-billion pound Plan for Jobs.’

Across England, the total new funding is £160m, bringing the overall value of the support since December 2020 to £429.1 million. Devolved administrations have received appropriate equivalent funding.

Between December 2020 and mid-April, almost 6.3m payments went to vulnerable households in England. Across England 92% of funding has been provided to families with children, and 94% of funding has been used to support households with food or utility bills.

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Responding to the announcement cllr Sharon Taylor, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, said:

‘Local leaders are led by the needs of their residents and councils have demonstrated through the pandemic that they are best placed to deliver services at pace for their local communities if empowered and resourced to do so.

‘This latest continuation of funding will help councils to provide much-needed support to low-income households at risk of poverty and financial hardship, including being able to provide further targeted help to families entitled to Free School Meals during the summer holiday period. Councils can now plan ahead into the early autumn.

‘As we move into recovery councils would like to be able to place greater emphasis on promoting resilience and developing opportunities for their more deprived households.

‘To ensure that we are able to best address the underlying drivers of disadvantage and break cycles of poverty in the longer term, there is a need for sustainable, preventative financial advice and support that will strengthen households’ capability and wellbeing and prevent crises from recurring.

‘This is why the LGA is working with government and partners to identify how best to enable councils to provide more long-term integrated, preventative support to low-income households in the forthcoming Spending Review.’

Photo Credit – Christopher Bill

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