Support is on its way to thousands of households with children who attend county schools and are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) to help cover the costs of food and energy bills this winter.
A one-off payment is due to be available in bank accounts or arrived as a voucher, (depending on the individual family’s preference) before Christmas.
Nottinghamshire County Council is working with district and borough councils to help ease some of the financial worries for residents who are struggling to make ends meet, thanks to the Government’s £5.6m Household Support Fund (HSF).
Up to £2 million of this money is due to be used to help families who qualify for FSM, with support provided via a single winter support payment to each eligible household, who has been able to apply for this support since early December.
Individual families will receive on average £100, which will be proportionately adjusted depending on the number of children eligible for FSM in the household, to help with extra food costs.
Councillor John Cottee, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “We have already written to nearly 18,000 households with children entitled to free school meals and offered them a winter support payment.
“I’m delighted to confirm that £1.2m of support is already on its way, to be shared among 11,120 households and due to arrive before Christmas. We are working hard to get the rest of the funds out as soon as applications come in.
“We have offered families a choice of having cash put into their bank accounts or being sent vouchers to spend in a way which best helps their immediate needs, such as helping pay an energy bill or with food shopping.
“For those who have had a letter from us and not had a chance to apply, then you have until 31 January to do so as we don’t want anyone to miss out.
“If you do have any concerns or doubts about the letter you receive from us and suspect it might be fraudsters unscrupulously posing as Nottinghamshire County Council, I would encourage you to check this letter with family, friends, or someone you trust.
“Alternatively, please do not hesitate to telephone our Customer Service Team or visit our website to check the letter is genuine. We won’t be contacting anyone about the winter support payment via text message.”
Councillor Tracey Taylor, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said this rollout builds on the County Council’s work to support thousands of households across the county.
She added: “We are proud of our record in delivering support to families struggling with cost-of-living challenges and the rollout of the winter support payment since early December reaffirms our commitment to helping those households and ultimately making sure thousands of Nottinghamshire schoolchildren won’t go hungry.
“This is in addition to our continuing schemes to support the well-being of children in the county, including our Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) which focuses on supporting youngsters to improve their knowledge of health and nutrition and encouraging them to eat more healthily and be more active during school holidays.”
As part of an approach to support 50,000 households in immediate need this winter, the remaining HSF will be used to support those in danger of becoming homeless, households with pensioners eligible for pension credit and other households who continue to struggle to make ends meet such as those who miss out as they don’t meet eligibility for other support.
Details of how to apply for this support will be announced in the New Year.
£210,000 has now been sent to district and borough councils to make discretionary housing payments to help those who otherwise might face homelessness.