This week the Government has announced an extension to the COVID Local Support Grant which will see Northumberland residents benefit from an additional £934,132 of funding. This takes the total funding to more than £2.5 million for a scheme that was introduced last December and will now run until this September.
Across the country, families have been benefiting from the scheme in several ways, with support delivered by local councils to make sure the needs of the community are met. I welcomed the scheme when it was first introduced as it is a well thought out package of support with 80% of the monies ring-fenced to help families with bills for food, key utilities, and other essentials.
Between December 2020 and mid-April, almost 6.3 million payments went to vulnerable households in England. Across the country, 92% of funding has been provided to families with children, and 94% of funding has been used to support households with food or utility bills. The total new funding is £160 million, bringing the overall value of the support since December 2020 to £429.1 million.
When it was introduced last winter, it was particularly useful for those who were struggling with heating bills. That may be less of an issue over the summer months, but I am nevertheless pleased that the safety net remains in place for food and heating bills as the economic shock of Covid-19 is still being felt, and it is important that families in Blyth Valley know there is help available.
I very much share the opinion of the Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince, that this grant is ensuring that thousands of families are receiving support as we move back towards what we remember as normal times. Alongside helping those looking for work through our multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs it is a wrap-around package to help families get back on their feet.
The funding is administered by Northumberland County Council as part of the Northumberland Communities Together initiative which was set up to support the county’s most vulnerable residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. If you need support or know of anyone that does please email NCT@northumberland.gov.uk or call 01670 620015 between 9am to 6pm.