A grant scheme that provides support with food and bills for vulnerable households during the pandemic has been extended.
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey MP announced the Covid Winter Grant Scheme would be renamed the Covid Local Support Scheme and extended until 20 June, with a further £40 million allocated.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “This further funding will help councils to continue to provide much-needed support to low income households at risk of poverty and financial hardship as the Government continues its gradual easing of the coronavirus measures.
“Councils will, for example, be able to provide further targeted support to families entitled to free school meals during the May holiday period.”
He added: “To ensure that we are able to best address the underlying drivers of disadvantage and break cycles of poverty in the longer term, the LGA is discussing with government and partners how best to enable councils to provide integrated, preventative support to low-income households.”
The grant scheme extension was announced in mid-April, as non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality, hairdressers and personal care services, gyms and indoor leisure facilities, the majority of outdoor attractions, public buildings including libraries and community centres, and self-contained hospitality accommodation and campsites reopened in the latest stage of the roadmap out of covid-related restrictions.
As first was going to press, the Government was reviewing social distancing measures, ahead of the next step on the roadmap, which would see indoor hospitality and entertainment – including restaurants, cinemas, theatres and concert halls – reopen from 17 May.
Meanwhile, twice-weekly COVID-19 tests are now available to everyone in England, free of charge.
One in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms, and ministers hope regular use of the rapid lateral flow tests will help to identify more of these asymptomatic cases and to keep cases low as the economy reopens.
Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Rapidly targeting local outbreaks will be crucial in our continuing fight against coronavirus and the expansion of testing to all adults will play a valuable part in this.”