Local families on low incomes will again get a helping hand this half term in the form of vouchers and grants to support them with food and other essentials.
Over the coming days, Ealing Council will issue supermarket vouchers and grants to almost 10,000 families on low incomes with children. Eligible families do not need to apply, as the support will be automatically provided to all local households on the council’s existing databases which fit the criteria. The support is designed to free up some of the families’ household budgets to pay for their utilities.
Free school meals
Around 12,000 children who go to school in the borough and who are eligible for free school meals will receive these benefits. Eligible children who live in the borough but attend schools elsewhere will receive their vouchers from the council in which their school resides.
Parents of eligible children will receive supermarket vouchers for £15 per child and an additional payment of £30 per household for the February half term.
Families with children aged five years old and younger, who receive housing benefit or council tax reduction or are living in temporary accommodation, will also be automatically identified using council databases. They will receive a one-off payment of £30.
Welfare assistance scheme
Extra support is also available to help all local households in financial crisis, with or without children, through the council’s local welfare assistance scheme. This support is designed to help pay for essentials like sanitary products, warm clothing, blankets, boiler repairs and equipment such as ovens or fridges. It is open to families that have already received supermarket vouchers but need further help. People seeking this extra support should apply online.
This round of support follows the successful roll out of vouchers and payments over the Christmas holidays. Some eligible families have not yet redeemed their vouchers from that time, and are being urged to do so as soon as possible to avoid missing out.
‘School holiday hunger’
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council’s cabinet member for finance and leisure, said: “Sadly, school holiday hunger is a reality for many families on low incomes in Ealing, and COVID-19 has magnified the poverty that already existed even further.
“We know that the current lockdown has lead to real hardship for some of Ealing’s poorest families. We will not stand by and watch children and their parents go hungry. That’s why, despite the financial pressure on the council, we are investing around £465,000 to support the families most in need this half term.”
The council’s website has a page outlining the financial assistance and benefits available to residents.