West Sussex to receive almost £2million in Covid winter grant funding

West Sussex will receive a share of a £170m national Covid winter grants fund.

Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 2:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th December 2020, 3:34 pm
The winter grants funding money will help those most in need in West Sussex

The money is focused on helping families buy essentials, with the guidance re-enforcing that 80 per cent of funds are ring-fenced to be spent on food, energy and water bills.

Councils can decide the best method of support, but this could include, for example, direct payments to individuals, providing meals directly, cascading funds to food distribution charities or providing food vouchers.

West Sussex County Council’s share will be £1.99m.

Councils will receive half of their allocated funding from today, allowing them to put support in place ahead of the Christmas period. The remainder will be given in 2021, as the scheme is designed to run until the end of March. The money is to be distributed to local authorities based on population size, whilst also weighting for deprivation.

An officers’ report sets out how West Sussex is proposing to allocate the money.

To support access to food, £925,00 would be used to purchase supermarket vouchers for vulnerable children and families.

On this £675,000 would be allocated via schools to free school meal eligible children during the Christmas holiday and February half term.

Each child eligible for FSMs will receive the equivalent of £15 a week in vouchers.

The remaining £250,000 will be held and administered by the community hub.

Meanwhile a total of £500,000 is used to assist with utility costs including energy, heating and water.

This will be distributed to eligible residents via a number of established organisations such as Citizens Advice, Age UK, Horsham Matters and a partnership arrangement with Southern Water to assist vulnerable residents in rural areas.

Another £350,000 will facilitate access to food and other assistance via community-based support organisations.

This will help reach the most vulnerable including individuals and families who are homeless or insecurely housed, care leavers, those financially vulnerable, isolated and lonely and without a network of support.

Organisations will draw down funds based on data returns demonstrating demand up to an agreed allocation for the four-month fund duration.

A Winter Support Fund will be established to further this neighbourhood activity or cover costs incurred by small voluntary community organisations, mutual aid groups as well as town and parish councils.

This fund initially allocated £100,000 will be administered by the Sussex Community Foundation.

The remaining funds totalling £114,591.80 will remain unallocated until submission of the interim reporting statement to DWP at the end of January 2021 to allow flexibility for any additional allocations based on demand.