The scheme is designed as a package of extra targeted financial support for families and individuals in need over the winter period.
Funding is being dispersed according to the population of each authority, weighted by a function of the English Index of Multiple Deprivation.
All local authorities have the discretion to identify and support those in most need in keeping with the fund's intent to targeted vulnerable households, families with children (including pre-school) affected by the pandemic. It also includes families who have access to free school meals and vulnerable adults.
Funding is designed to meet immediate needs and help those who are struggling to afford food and utility bills (heating, cooking, lighting) and water for household purposes (including drinking, washing, cooking, central heating, sewerage and sanitary purposes), or other related essentials.
This scheme is part of a wider winter support package for families and children from the government.
80% of the Winter Grant Scheme has been set aside for vulnerable families (at least one parent with at least one child under the age of 18 who live together in a household) to provide support around access to food, energy and water bills.
20% of the funding can be used to support other households experiencing or at risk of experiencing poverty during the pandemic. This may include households not currently in receipt of DWP welfare benefits.
Existing support for communities
Derbyshire has several existing programmes to support families and individuals experiencing financial exclusion issues relating to food insecurity or paying energy bills.
COVID-19 related funding offers an opportunity to strengthen and expand some of these provisions, to meet the growing need of both families and other vulnerable individuals because of COVID-19.
Examples of existing support include:
- Feeding Derbyshire: this programme currently supports the work of food banks and community pantries, community cafes, community kitchens, school holiday clubs, and breakfast and after-school clubs across Derbyshire, as well as being responsible for working strategically to alleviate food poverty.
- Derbyshire Healthy Home project: support for those living in cold homes
- Rural Action Derbyshire (community oil buying scheme)
- Citizen's Advice: energy advice, debt management, income maximisation
- Marches Energy Agency: support for people in fuel poverty
- Derbyshire Discretionary Fund: grants or emergency cash payments to those in urgent need of financial help following a crisis or disaster
The local vision is to reach and support as many as possible vulnerable families with children and adults in the most cost effective, efficient and practical method available to achieve the maximum output over the winter period. The vision includes a strategy for 'signposting' to available resources in the community to assist the range of vulnerable families with children and other vulnerable adults should be clear and accessible via the communications to ensure those in need could be assisted.
As part of the preparatory work to support the grant administration, a Data Privacy Impact Assessment (DPIA) has been developed to identify and minimise the data protection risks of the project. The only data intended to support the scheme will be used to identify vulnerable families and vulnerable adults and will not be stored or shared with third parties after its intended use.
Colleagues from across the county council have worked to develop eligibility criteria and have undertaken associated data modelling having reviewed the guidance and compared to other local authorities proposed criteria.
Eligibility criteria identifying those most in need has been determined as free school meal (FSM) (excluding universal), early years pupil premium with qualifying benefits, early years 2-year-old with qualifying benefits and care leavers 16 to 18.
If your child is not known to us by 9 December 2020 then you should get in touch using our online form to ask about eligibility and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Even if you are not eligible for this round of the voucher scheme you may be eligible for future rounds.
For free school meals the child must attend an educational setting and must be in receipt of one or more of the following qualifying benefits (in some cases this excludes Universal Free School Meals).
For early years pupil premium, the child must be aged between 3 or 4 and the family must also be in receipt of free childcare and one or more of the following qualifying benefits.
For early years 2-year-old funding, the child must be aged 2 and be in receipt of free childcare and one or more of the qualifying benefits.
For care leavers, they should have been in care for at least 13 weeks after they reach the age of 14 or have been in care for at least one day after reaching the age of 16 - the additional qualifying benefits do not apply.
Income Support, income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance, support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit (provided not also entitled to Working Tax Credit) and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190, Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit - your household income must be less than set threshold after tax not including any benefits you get.
COVID winter grants for families (food vouchers)
Voucher delivery provides a targeted solution whilst ensuring the grant is spent in the areas most in need and in keeping with its intent whilst reducing the burden on families to actively seek assistance.
Wider support to vulnerable households
The Derbyshire Discretionary Fund (DDF) will be boosted to enable more households to be supported. Where applicants have already exceeded the maximum support the DDF can facilitate under the current criteria of 3 payments in a 12 months period but are facing further financial difficulties related to COVID-19, the fund may be able to offer increased assistance. Applications made to the DDF where the applicant has already had the maximum awards allowed will be diverted to a dedicated team of decision makers who will assess their circumstances against the COVID Winter Grant Scheme criteria.
Derbyshire care leavers aged 18 to 25 will be offered a voucher from the authority on the same basis as the COVID winter grant for families.
Additional support is being made available to the organisations that already support vulnerable Derbyshire residents.
Grant award frequency (food vouchers)
For families with eligible children food vouchers will be issued in 2 instalments, at Christmas and during the spring term 2021.
Equality and diversity impact assessment
Under the Equality Act 2010, all public authorities must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.
For the purposes of this grant, we have considered how any support that helps people facing severe financial hardship impacts those with characteristics protected under the Equality Act.
Lost or stolen vouchers
We cannot be held responsible for lost or stolen vouchers once a voucher has been sent and delivery is confirmed by automated delivery receipt response. Delivered vouchers are the sole responsibility its intended recipient. Replacement of lost or stolen vouchers will not, in normal circumstances, be our responsibility.
These terms and conditions are correct as of 14 December 2020 and may be subject to change. Please check regularly for updates.