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Free school meals extended through Christmas break in £6.7 million winter hardship package for Norfolk

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Free school meals will be provided to youngsters in West Norfolk over the Christmas holidays, following the allocation of multi-million pound Government funding.

County council chiefs have today announced a £6.7 million package which they say will enable school holiday meal provision both during the festive season and the February half-term.

They also claim the scheme will offer wider support to families in need during the winter months.

Eligible pupils will get free school meals during the Christmas and February half-term holidays.
Eligible pupils will get free school meals during the Christmas and February half-term holidays.

The money is being drawn from a £500 million Household Support Fund unveiled by ministers in September.

The measure is intended to support families affected by the ending of both the furlough scheme and the £20 a week top-up to Universal Credit.

Critics warned that the axing of both schemes, offered during the height of the coronavirus crisis, risked families facing hardship this winter.

Norfolk County Council's headquarters.
Norfolk County Council's headquarters.

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor said today: “Our economy is gradually recovering from the pandemic but we know that some of our residents are continuing to face financial difficulties.

“This one-off package of support will help those most in need to access food and funds over the winter months, including help with energy and water costs.

“Building on the strong partnerships established across Norfolk, we are working alongside the district councils, the voluntary sector and schools to make sure we can between us reach those who need this support the most.

“I hope this will provide some help over the Christmas period – a time which can be especially difficult for those facing financial hardship.”

A total of £2.4m from the package will be allocated for free school meals, with eligible youngsters receiving £55 in vouchers for the Christmas period and £15 for the February half-term break. The remaining funding will be used as follows:

£1.2m for Norfolk Assistance Scheme (NAS) – an extension of the county council’s existing scheme to provide emergency financial help, essential household goods and advice and support.

£1.4m to district councils for community support –

£1m of support targeted to voluntary and community groups, via Norfolk Community Foundation, allowing them to apply for £50 vouchers to distribute to people in need.

£500,000 – for local support with food.

Further information on the support available can be accessed via www.norfolk.gov.uk/wintersupport.

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