Two weeks left to apply for free school meal and bills help worth up to £1,500 – how to apply

FAMILIES in England have just over two weeks left to access help paying for food and bills.

The government's Covid Local Support Grant will end on September 30, when councils will stop accepting applications.

Councils were handed £429million in total by central government to help support vulnerable families during the pandemic.

Local authorities could use the money to fund food vouchers and utility bill payments, such as heating, for families struggling due to Covid-19.

The scheme initially launched in December last year as the Covid Winter Support Grant.

It was renamed and extended several times, but the deadline is now set for September 30.

That brings it in line with the deadlines of other Covid financial support schemes, such as furlough and the Universal Credit uplift, which will also end this month.

What you could get

Different amounts were given out to to each council, allowing them freedom to take their own approach to distributing the funding.

But least 80% of the total funding has to support households with children.

Up to 20% is set aside for other households suffering from poverty in the pandemic.

The majority of the cash is ringfenced to be spent on food and bills, but 20% can be put towards buying other essentials.

This could include sanitary products, warm clothing and purchasing essential kitchen appliances.

An investigation by The Sun previously found that one council gave families more than £1,500 to help with essential repairs.

Wokingham Council said it had spent an average of £1,587 on “other essentials”, as four families needed help paying for their roof or boiler to be fixed.

It handed out grants of £400 to families to pay their energy bills, covering a four week period. 

A further £2,000 was also donated to the local food bank, which was able to distribute fuel vouchers to its users.

In Middlesbrough, the average payment was £32.60 and vulnerable families were able to make their own decision on what to spend it on.

Oxfordshire County Council handed out 252 fuel vouchers, with an average payment of £46.

It has also paid for community larder subscriptions, with a £3.50 weekly membership fee giving families access to up to £15 worth of food

There were 203 grant recipients in York, with £108 handed out per family, on average.

The maximum given to struggling families in the city was £370 for food and £450 for bills.

West Sussex council told The Sun it spent an average of £430 per vulnerable household on energy bills.

In Wakefield, the average amount given out for energy costs was £118, rising to £400 for the biggest payment.

Meanwhile the biggest grant given for other essentials, not including fuel, was £362.

In the London Borough of Sutton, around 7,250 grants were given out to children who would usually receive free school meals – each voucher was worth £15.

How to apply

To find out what is available in your area and whether you can access support, you should contact your local authority.

You can find your local council online here.

Each council should have outlined the application process on their website, but you should contact them via phone or email if it is not clear.

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