Central Bedfordshire Council said it has distributed food vouchers to the families of 5,560 children this half term, along with additional support to help them with their winter fuel bills.

Following the voucher scheme the council ran during the Christmas holiday period, it has again supported families in need by providing a £15 supermarket voucher during the February half term for each child eligible for free school meals.

The Council added that it has also provided an extra £10 per child to help these families meet the costs of winter bills.

Councillor Sue Clark, executive member for Families, Education and Children, said:

“The pandemic has put financial pressures on a lot of families, and we are grateful that this extra funding has allowed us to support those most in need during the school holidays, and during the cold weather.

“Those who are struggling should reach out to us for support if they need it.”

The support is being provided as part of a £587,000 winter support package. This was announced in December, and it is to help families and vulnerable individuals in Central Bedfordshire who are struggling with the cost of food, bills and other essentials over the winter months.

The funding, which is part of a £170 million national scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions, aims to support people facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Council said the fund has also boosted its existing local welfare provision. This provides support to people over the age of 16 with food and utility expenses following an emergency or crisis.

Further information for Central Bedfordshire residents in financial hardship is available here.

Guidance on applying for Free School Meals, including eligibility criteria, is available here.