Council increases support to families on reduced incomes
Telford & Wrekin Council increases its support to families under extra financial strain due to lockdown through a wide range of schemes - including vouchers to help families on low income with their costs during February half-term holiday
There is a range of benefits and support available for families on a reduced income due to the pandemic. The Council has grouped all the support available on www.telford.gov.uk/coronavirus - I am a resident section, to make it easier and quicker for everyone to check eligibility for various schemes and apply.
Additionally, the Council is extending its help to families in need across the borough by providing extra support with household costs over this winter period, including the February half-term holiday.
All borough families registered for free school meals and for pre-school benefits (such as early years pupil premium or funded childcare places for 2 year olds) as well as care leavers will receive from the Council (prior to the February half-term holiday) one voucher per household - to help with food costs during the one-week holiday and with winter bills.
Borough families will be able to use the voucher at a range of local supermarkets.
The voucher is allocated per household and its total value is determined by the number of children on the above-mentioned benefits (£15 per child) and an additional one-off £35 support.
For instance, a family with two children on free school meals will receive from the Council one voucher totalling £65.
This enhanced package of support will relieve the extra pressure on families’ budgets as a result of the half-term holiday and higher than usual costs for heating and other bills during this winter lockdown.
The Council is encouraging families who are not registered yet for free school meals or pre-school benefits but who might qualify now due to changes in circumstances, to apply by latest Monday, 1 February 2021 – to ensure they receive their household voucher for the February half-term holiday.
If the child you care for is in school - go to www.telford.gov.uk/FSM to check eligibility and apply for free school meals.
If the child you care for is age three or four years old and in any of these pre-school settings (childminder, pre-school/playgroup, nursery) – go to www.telford.gov.uk/eypp to check eligibility and apply for extra support.
Councillor Paul Watling Cabinet Member for Co-operative Communities, Engagement and Partnerships said: “We are now offering an increased support to families in need whose circumstances might have changed for the worse due to the new lockdown in force.
“Many of them are finding it difficult with children at home, due to the increased costs, for instance with heating.
“We want to help these families as much as we can – so, compared to the winter holiday, we are increasing the voucher value covering their food costs during February half-term, in the hope that this will free up their budget for other costs arising.
“If you are already on pre-school benefits or school meals support, you don’t need to do anything to apply – you will receive one voucher for your household directly from our Council, prior to the February half-term holiday.
“If you are not registered for free school meals or pre-school benefits but you believe you might now qualify due to changed financial circumstances – please apply by 1 February 2021 on www.telford.gov.uk/FSM (free school meals) or www.telford.gov.uk/eypp (pre-school benefits) so you can receive this increased voucher support you may be entitled to.
“Over the Christmas holiday, we have helped over 8,200 children and we hope many more who need this kind of support will benefit from it during February half-term.”
Councillor Shirley Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning said: “We would like to encourage parents and carers to apply for free school meals or Early Years Pupil Premium, if they are entitled to and have not done so yet.
“In addition to the benefits that this brings to school aged pupils in terms of school lunch provision, every application of this kind means extra-funding to schools and pre-schools settings that they will use to support the children’s learning.”
The February half-term voucher complements other help for families that the Council is offering, such as:
-Free breakfast boxes - The Council is working with 11 community groups across the borough to deliver free breakfast boxes, containing breakfast items for five days for children on free school meals. More details are on www.telford.gov.uk/breakfast
-Winter coats - Working with schools and children’s services, the Council helps borough children in need with a winter coat and shoes to keep warm.
Over 100 coats have already been delivered to families.
-Laptops for Learning– to help borough children falling through the gap of the government’s scheme, the Council developed its own “Laptops for Learning” scheme and provided around 350 laptops to schools
Over 1,000 children are set to benefit from the Council’s laptops over the lifetime of this project.
Additionally, the Council is aiming to provide even more laptops to keep children learning during lockdown and are asking people and businesses to donate any old laptops that they don’t use any more. Laptops can be collected from anywhere in Telford and Wrekin and will be traded in to buy new laptops for children who don’t have their own computer at home for online learning.
To find out more and donate, go to https://bit.ly/35RkDqQ
-Paying fuel bills and heating homes – In partnership with the registered charity Marches Energy Advice, the Council is providing the Telford Energy Advice (TEA) local service.
This service helps people find the best deal on gas and electricity, supports them in accessing grant funding for home energy efficiency/heating improvements and advises on any questions they might have about keeping warm this winter.
You can contact the friendly local team at TEA on 0800 677 1952 or email email@example.com.
A number of support schemes for families and all borough residents are available on www.telford.gov.uk/coronavirus/support