Ealing families on low incomes and vulnerable households will get a helping hand this winter in the form of special vouchers and grants to help with food and other essentials.
Government has made £170m in extra funding available to councils so they can support local people in need. Ealing’s share of this is £1,068,982.
The council will use the money to issue supermarket vouchers to families on low incomes with children. Eligible families will be identified using the council’s existing databases and do not need to make an application.
Children who qualify for free school meals, where eligibility is based on low income, will be identified using the council’s records. Around 12,000 children attending Ealing schools will benefit. Eligible Ealing children who attend schools outside of the borough will receive their vouchers from the council in which their school resides.
Parents of eligible children will receive vouchers totalling £15 per week per child; a first payment of £30 per child for the two-week December holidays and a second one of £15 per child for February half term. In addition, they will receive a top up in February to help free up some of their other income to pay utility bills.
Families with children aged five years old and younger, who are in receipt of housing benefit or council tax reduction, or living in temporary accommodation, will also be automatically identified using council databases.
Around 1,600 families will receive two vouchers; £25 per child for December and £20 per child in February.
In addition, extra support is available to help all households in financial crisis, with or without children. This support is designed to help pay for essentials such as sanitary products, warm clothing, blankets, boiler repairs and equipment such as ovens or fridges and is also available to families that have already received supermarket vouchers, but need further support.
People seeking this extra support will be obliged to make an application for local welfare assistance online. Eligibility will be in line with existing criteria.
The council has also paid a special grant of £50,000 to Ealing Foodbank to help with extra demand from local families during winter.
School holiday hunger
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for finance and leisure, said: “We are starting to process these vouchers now and hope to get them to our local families as soon as we can. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased hardship in our communities, as well as highlighting the poverty that already existed. Sadly, school holiday hunger is the reality for many families on low incomes in Ealing and COVID-19 has made it worse.
“I am pleased that we are in a position to give extra financial support to Ealing Foodbank. They do wonderful work in our community, not only providing food, but also giving hope, compassion and respect to the local people who use their services. They need our support and I ask anyone who can to consider giving using the donation points in their local supermarket or one of the foodbank’s other drop off locations.
“Our local welfare assistance team refers people in crisis to the foodbank, as well as providing support and advice to help those in crisis to get the help they need. I encourage anyone who feels they could be eligible for help from the foodbank or our local welfare assistance team to get in touch with our team.”
The council’s website has a page outlining the financial assistance and benefits available to residents.