COVID Winter Grant Scheme

The council, with the help of schools, colleges, early years settings and other family support services across the borough, are distributing vouchers worth £880,000 on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, during the winter months to the most vulnerable children and families to pay for essentials such as food and energy.

The money is our share of the government’s £170 million COVID Winter Grant Scheme which is available from now until the end of March 2021. The fund aims to support those most in need across England with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, lighting), water bills and other essentials.

Who is eligible for the scheme

Over 11,000 children and young people have already been identified by us who will start to receive their vouchers during December. These children, young people and their families are identified as those who:

  • are in receipt of income related free school meals
  • are in receipt of early years pupil premium and two-year funding
  • are care leavers up to age 25
  • are not in education, employment or training aged 16-18
  • are young carers for their parents/carers
  • are known to domestic abuse services

These families will receive their vouchers via schools, colleges, early years settings and by a host of support services.

More children, young people and their families have also been identified by the council who qualify for these vouchers, including those who: 

  • are known to children’s social care and early help services
  • are parents/carers who are experiencing financial hardship due to being unable to work as their children are self-isolating
  • are vulnerable due to financial hardship and can be referred by a partner agency (e.g. GP, Teacher, Support Worker)

How the scheme works

Referrals can be made by any frontline professionals who support these children and families, who have been contacted with all the details on how to request support.

  • Vouchers are available for £20 per child per week for food, to cover the Christmas school holidays and February half term or £49 per household for utilities
  • Families who have been identified as meeting the criteria will receive their vouchers via schools, colleges, early years settings and other support services.
  • If a family requires further support, this is available via an additional referral. Families are asked to contact their school, college or trusted professional to put in a request on their behalf.
  • Families are asked to allow five working days for an application to be processed.

For more information, refer to the COVID Winter Grant Scheme FAQs (PDF, 210KB).

Any families who find themselves in need, and who don’t currently meet the criteria for this grant can apply for free school meals or by requesting support from a professional they are working with.

Other sources of support

  • For emergency support, contact the Emergency Duty Team via 0300 123 5022.
  • For additional emergency support with food ask for a referral to your local food banks.
  • If you believe that you are eligible for the free school meals allowance but have not yet registered, you can apply for free school meals online at, or phone 0300 123 5012 and we will arrange for a voucher to be issued to you via your school or setting.
  • For other emergency support you can apply for our Emergency AssistanCE scheme