To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England Poverty in the pandemic: An update on the impact of coronavirus on low-income families and children, published on 14 December, what new measures they are putting in place to respond to the needs of low-income families, and in particular, the children of such families.
Throughout the pandemic, the Government has delivered an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses and, for those in most need, injected billions into the welfare system. From 6 April 2020 the Government temporarily increased the standard allowance in Universal Credit by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating, for new and existing Universal Credit claimants. This measure remains in place until March 2021.
The new Covid Winter Grant Scheme builds on that support with an additional £170 million for local authorities in England. The grant will carry conditions and reporting requirements to ensure the scheme is focussed on providing support with food and utility costs to vulnerable families with children. At least 80 per cent is to be spent on families with children, providing some flexibility for councils to help other vulnerable people. Councils will also be required to spend at least 80 per cent on food and key utilities for heating and power, again, with some flexibility for other essentials. It is also increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers by more than a third to help low income families. From April the value of vouchers will rise from £3.10 to £4.25.