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Schools help get emergency support to low income families before Christmas

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The roll-out of urgent help for children and their families continues across North Yorkshire, with a food voucher scheme set to be in place before Christmas for those hardest hit by the pandemic.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will see £1.4m distributed to struggling families in North Yorkshire with the help of schools, academies, early years settings and colleges in North Yorkshire. The scheme will ensure children eligible for Free School Meals will continue to have access to food over the Christmas holidays and into the next year and also help other families with children in education or formal childcare who are on low incomes, or whose incomes have been severely affected by the pandemic.

The County Council is in the process of transferring the Government funding over to schools, who will then begin purchasing and distributing supermarket vouchers to families, which will be the equivalent to £20 per child per week.

Schools are being given the discretion to extend the scheme to not just those in receipt of Free School Meals, but others families who may have been identified as in need, in recognition of the fact that some families may be newly struggling as a result of the pandemic.

North Yorkshire’s schools and Early Years Providers will be distributing vouchers for supermarkets which can be accessed by parents locally.

Care leavers will also receive the vouchers.

Amanda Newbold, Assistant Director for Education and Skills said: “We would like to thank schools, early years providers and other educational settings for their support in getting this money to children most in need at this busy time of year.

“This voucher scheme will make a real difference to families who are struggling and we appreciate their collaboration with the County Council in this initiative.”

The Department for Work and Pensions’ Covid Winter Grant Scheme runs from November until March 2021.

Any parents newly struggling through income loss caused by the pandemic, but who may not be in receipt of free school meals, should contact their school, or can apply to the County Council’s North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund for help.

North Yorkshire’s Local Assistance Fund makes emergency awards for food or utility vouchers.

Other council support for people currently struggling in North Yorkshire includes the Local Assistance Fund (NYLAF), which makes emergency awards for food, or utility vouchers. The County Council has increased its award entitlement for emergency provision for a temporary period, using one-off funding from the Government and the support is not just available to families with children.

To find out more information on the NYLAF, visit; www.northyorks.gov.uk/nylaf

Any parents who experience any difficulties with the voucher scheme during the school holidays are asked to contact North Yorkshire County Council’s customer service centre on 01609 780780. The centre is open seven days a week from 8am to 5.30pm.

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