West Northamptonshire councillors open £2.6m warchest to fund free school meals over summer holidays

Cabinet to decide on anti-poverty package to tackle cost of living crisis

Thursday, 9th June 2022, 10:41 am

Councillors will be asked to back opening a £2.6 million anti-poverty warchest to help tackle the cost of living crisis.

West Northamptonshire Council has cash from the government’s Household Support Fund earmarked for the most vulnerable households and individuals in the authority.

Plans include funding weekly food vouchers throughout the summer holidays for for around 10,000 children who would normally get free school meals and food vouchers for those facing most hardship in the face of rampant inflation.

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More than 10,000 children who normally get free school meals will receive food vouchers through the summer holidays, under proposals from West Northamptonshire councillor Matt Golby

There will also be extra help made available for more than 6,500 pensioners.

The fund was set up last year and has already helped thousands cope with rising food and energy costs.

Matt Golby, cabinet member for adult social care and public health on the Tory-controlled authority, said distributing the fund fits in with the council’s anti-poverty strategy.

He added: “We know the pressures many are currently facing, especially pensioners, people with disabilities and families with children. Which is why it is proposed that this fund targets support to these most vulnerable households across the county.

“Our vision is for a fairer and more inclusive West Northamptonshire, where everyone is able to live their best life, prosperous and fulfilling, free from poverty and inequality.”

Reports on Thursday (June 9) revealed the cost of filling an average family car had soared above £100 for the first time after average prices of unleaded and diesel hit record highs.

A cabinet meeting on Tuesday (June 14) will decide how to best distribute money from the fund within the scope set out by ministers. The proposals are:

■ £20 per week food vouchers over the holidays for children on free school meals.

■ £100 for 6,500 residents who receive Pension Credit.

■ £50 Pension Credit top-up for pensioners with severe disabilities.

■ Extra payments for those not on Pension Credit but identified as suffering severe financial hardship.

■ Maximum £100 food vouchers to eligible households offsetting increases in food and fuel costs.

A council spokesperson said school meal payments are expected to be made before the start of the holidays with pensioners’ payments also planned for July.

Work continues on arrangements with community organisations to distribute food vouchers to eligible households from late July or early August.

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