Support available to Oxfordshire residents most in need this spring

Financial and practical help continues for people struggling to feed their families or heat their homes this spring as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with the city and district councils and Citizens Advice services, is offering support to vulnerable residents through a number of schemes.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The pandemic and the lockdown are continuing to affect so many people, not least financially, in an unprecedented way. That is why this ongoing support is so vital. No-one likes asking for help, but please, if you are struggling to pay for the essentials, then get in touch with your local authority and see if you are eligible for some financial help. We’re here to help you.”

The families of 14,500 eligible children and young people will receive food vouchers or equivalent support worth £30 through their schools, college or nursery ahead of the Easter holiday.

Financial help is also being extended into the spring for support with the costs of food and essential utilities. A further £425,000 is being distributed by the county council to the city and district councils, working in partnership with Citizens Advice and other local advisory services. More than 5,000 families have already received emergency help through this scheme.

The teams will then carry out appropriate checks to see if the person applying is eligible for financial help.

Oxfordshire County Council anticipates grants will be available until 21 June. However, with only a fixed amount of money made available by central government, it is encouraging eligible families to apply as soon as possible, if they have not already.

Four thousand free places for children eligible for free school meals are being provided in holiday schemes, for between four to eight days, over the Easter period. Providers will be offering a range of activities to support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing, along with education about nutrition and nutritional meals.

This comes following the Department for Education’s announcement that it is making up to £1.4 million available to Oxfordshire to support these children over Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays in 2021 through its Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) funding. Moving forward, the county council will be working with partners to develop the offer more widely.

Details of how to apply are available from Oxfordshire County Council’s website.