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Agenda item

Preparations for Welfare Winter Planning and Support

The Director of Customer and Communities to present a report which reviews the provision of nationally and locally funded welfare support available to financially vulnerable residents and families during the coming winter months, seeks approval for proposals to address school holiday hunger in the short term and food poverty in the longer term, and provides options for the use of remaining emergency covid-related funding to benefit those residents most affected by the pandemic.

 

Decision:

Resolved:  (i)      That the continued impacts of the pandemic on financially vulnerable members of York’s communities as many government covid welfare schemes come to an end, and the full range of activities planned by the council and partners to support residents during the forthcoming winter, be noted.

 

                   (ii)      That the £1m covid emergency funding identified by the Executive at the start of the pandemic, and how this has been distributed, be noted.

 

                   (iii)     That, in relation to holiday Free School Meal vouchers, £150k funding from the York Financial Assistance Scheme Emergency Fund reserve be approved to cover the school holidays in the current financial year to February Half Term (excluding the week at Christmas covered by Holiday Activities and Food Programme Funding).

 

                   (iv)    That the subject of school holiday food provision be referred to the Children, Education & Communities Policy and Scrutiny Committee for them to consider the effectiveness, impact and funding of the voucher scheme alongside other grassroots community-based provision and other schemes to address the impact of food poverty; this work could also inform further formal responses back to the Department for Education.

 

                   (v)     That approval be given to fund the following schemes for one year from existing YFAS emergency funds as outlined in paragraphs 34-39 and 41 of the report:

·       Early Support Fund, at an additional cost of £20k;

·       Early intervention for residents in debt, at a cost of £35k;

·       £100% Digital York Project Co-ordinator, at a cost of £23,220.

 

Reason:     To acknowledge the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic on residents, recognise the ending of a number of related government support schemes, consider mitigations and increase awareness of developing council plans to support residents in debt and in difficulty meeting their day to day living expenses.

 

Minutes:

The Director of Customer and Communities presented a report which reviewed the provision of nationally and locally funded welfare support available to financially vulnerable residents and families during the coming winter months while the effects of covid were still being felt across the city. 

 

The report set out proposals to address school holiday hunger in the short term and food poverty in the longer term. Members were asked to consider the funding of free school meal (FSM) vouchers during the October half term and the ongoing policy direction and funding for the provision of holiday FSM vouchers during the 2021/22 academic year, given the lack of direct funding from government.  It was suggested that the longer-term policy be referred to Scrutiny for consideration. Approval was also sought for proposals to use funding from the York Financial Assistance Scheme (YFAS) covid reserve to help those residents most affected by the pandemic, as detailed in paragraphs 33-40.  Options in respect of the proposals in the report were set out in paragraph 41, the recommended options being B(ii), C(i) and D(i).

 

Members welcomed the report, noting that the situation required longer term support from government.  In response to comments made under Public Participation, it was stressed that the council was doing all it could, including working with partners, and not relying solely on the Holiday Activities fund.

 

Resolved:  (i)      That the continued impacts of the pandemic on financially vulnerable members of York’s communities as many government covid welfare schemes come to an end, and the full range of activities planned by the council and partners to support residents during the forthcoming winter, be noted.

 

                   (ii)      That the £1m covid emergency funding identified by the Executive at the start of the pandemic, and how this has been distributed, be noted.

 

                   (iii)     That, in relation to holiday Free School Meal vouchers, £150k funding from the York Financial Assistance Scheme Emergency Fund reserve be approved to cover the school holidays in the current financial year to February Half Term (excluding the week at Christmas covered by Holiday Activities and Food Programme Funding) [Option B(ii)].

 

                   (iv)    That the subject of school holiday food provision be referred to the Children, Education & Communities Policy and Scrutiny Committee for them to consider the effectiveness, impact and funding of the voucher scheme alongside other grassroots community-based provision and other schemes to address the impact of food poverty; this work could also inform further formal responses back to the Department for Education. [Option C(i)]

 

                   (v)     That approval be given to fund the following schemes for one year from existing YFAS emergency funds as outlined in paragraphs 34-39 and 41 of the report:

·       Early Support Fund, at an additional cost of £20k;

·       Early intervention for residents in debt, at a cost of £35k;

·       £100% Digital York Project Co-ordinator, at a cost of £23,220.

[Option D(i)]

 

Reason:     To acknowledge the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic on residents, recognise the ending of a number of related government support schemes, consider mitigations and increase awareness of developing council plans to support residents in debt and in difficulty meeting their day to day living expenses.

 

Supporting documents:

 

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