Over £2.6m has been provided or allocated to families and individual households across the borough, supporting those most in need with food, household bill support, and other essentials.
In recognition of winter pressures, Croydon was tasked by the Department of Work and Pensions late last year to provide £3m in household support funding across local communities.
Strong progress has been made in delivering on this task, with council staff working tirelessly so that all remaining funding goes to those who need it before the end of March. Applications have now closed to allow remaining grants to be processed and allocated before the programme concludes later this month. This has been a collaborative effort involving housing, schools, communities, and social care staff.
The majority of the fund has gone to support families with children under-19. Over the festive period the council provided every local authority school and nursery with funding to issue pupils in receipt of free school meals, or Early Years Pupil Premium, a supermarket voucher or food hamper. Throughout the winter break, pupils in receipt of free school meals were also able to access 48 free Holiday Activity and Food Clubs across Croydon, which provided a healthy meal and snack each day.
Funding for individual households was allocated on a discretionary basis to cover as wide a range of recipients as possible, whether for those feeling the squeeze over winter due to personal circumstances, impact of the pandemic, or people who would not otherwise qualify for benefits. Anecdotal feedback from individual recipients has been very positive with stories of being able to clear growing utilities bills and stock up on food, as well as gratitude for individual staff efforts.
The council’s communities team also worked to ensure as wide a reach as possible, extending the scheme beyond just individuals to consider a wide range of community groups. They are currently providing grants to 31 local organisations across Croydon including community centres, refugee support charities, food-banks, and faith hubs. All these organisations do incredibly important work locally to support families and vulnerable residents, going above and beyond for their community.
The Household Support Fund was given to councils to administer in recognition of their vital local knowledge and reach to target those who require the most support. Croydon’s efforts to swiftly move to distribute support among the community shows the value of that approach.
“It’s great that we have been able to target this support to families, children and households who need it most over a tough winter period. I am proud of the way so many different council services have come together to swiftly allocate funds right across Croydon.
“We know that current financial pressures are being felt by many of our residents and it’s important that we provide help where we can, whether through our schools, voluntary sector partners or direct to individuals.”
Councillor Patricia Hay-Justice, cabinet member for homes