For Families in Bournemouth West and across the UK, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a strain on day to day life - with greater pressure put on childcare and household budgets. It is for that reason that I am delighted that the Government has recognised this reality and taken action, with a spending commitment of over £390m to support hard hit families over the winter period. For more details of how the Government has pleged to support for families, including the Holiday Activities and Food programme and the Covid Winter Grant Scheme, please read on.
- Giving councils £170 million to ensure vulnerable households don’t go hungrythis winter.Councils will get an extra £170 million via our Covid Winter Grant Scheme, ring-fenced to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over Christmas. This builds on the £63 million provided to councils earlier this year to assist those struggling to afford food and essentials.
- Extending the Holiday Activities and Food Programme until Christmas 2021 and funding food distribution charities.We’re investing up to £220 million–more than existing funding allocated to the programme.This will mean all children eligible for Free School Meals will have the option to join a holiday-time programme that provides healthy food and fun activities during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays. We will also boost Healthy Start payments from £3.10 to £4.25 from April 2021 and pledged additional funding of £16m for food distribution charities.
- Giving those who need extra support more money through the welfare system.We’ve boosted the Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit by £1,000 per year for 12 months, part of a £9.3 billion increase to the welfare safety net.This built on the1.7 per cent rise in value of working age benefits that came into effect inApril, benefitting 2.5 million households.Those on low incomes required to self-isolate due to Coronavirus can also claim £500 payments.
- Increasing support with housing costs, so households have more money to spend on their priorities.We have increased local housing allowance rates for housing benefit and universal credit claimants to the 30th percentile of local rents, worth on average £600 per year at a total cost of almost £1 billion. Families that are struggling to make ends meet can also access mortgage holidays and support with their council tax bills.
- Helping people with the cost of living by keeping taxes low and tackling low pay. The NLW received its largest ever cash boost in April–increasing by 6.2 per cent to £8.72. This meant an annual pay rise of £930 for a full-time worker on the NLW, and of £3,600 sinceits introduction in 2016. Together our changes to the NLW, income tax and NI mean the lowest-paid working full time could in real terms be better off by £5,200 than 2010
I hope that you share my optimisim that this support, provided by our Conservative Government led by Boris Johnson, will help families over the course of this winter. As ever, if you need help accessing support or would like to know if this support is available for your family - please email Conor.Burns.MP@Parliament.UK and I will endeavour to assist you.