Nottinghamshire County Council: Helping children in low-income families in Nottinghamshire hit by the impact of Covid-19

Growing up in a low-income family can affect a child’s development and their future.

Nottinghamshire County Council has been working to tackle this issue to help more children do well at school, college, and higher education, get secure employment, and have happier, healthier lives.

The latest available data from 2018-19, showed that 15% of children in Nottinghamshire were living in relative low-income families, compared with an average of 18.4% across England, and 15.3% in the East Midlands. It is understood that national child poverty levels have increased since the pandemic began in March 2020, and this is reflected in the number of children and young people claiming free school meals.

Nottinghamshire County Council has done a lot to tackle food insecurity for families in the county over the last year:

  • Working with the national charity Family Action, the County Council are launching FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Clubs. Currently more than 150 families in the county benefit from a weekly food parcel worth £15-20, costing them just £3.50, made possible by Nottinghamshire successfully achieving the Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme, one of just five local authorities in the country to do so.
  • By Spring 2022 Nottinghamshire will have the largest number of FOOD (Food On Our Doorstep) Clubs in England, helping families access healthy and affordable food.
  • Over the Easter period this year, 4,184 children and young people eligible for Free School Meals got free food and activity packs as part of the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. The HAF programme will run again in the upcoming school summer holiday period.
  • From December 2020 to April this year 87,357 supermarket vouchers were provided to vulnerable families through the Covid Winter Grant Scheme during both term time and the school holidays. This scheme was replaced by the Covid Local Support Grant, which gave free school meals to children during the May school half term. This scheme, run by the Department for Work and Pensions, is being extended into the school summer holiday period.

The County Council has also made good progress helping people into work:

  • 866 families have achieved positive outcomes, meeting the Supporting Families Programme target for 2020-21. 830 of the families made significant progress towards employment.
  • 67% of parents contacted by the Children’s Centre Service three months after a work-readiness intervention reported an improvement in their employment status.
  • Take up of 30 hours funded childcare for working parents has increased to 94.4% of those eligible, helping more parents work without childcare costs being a barrier.

Nottinghamshire County Council has been using the available data to target priority areas, working in partnership with other organisations to tackle child poverty, including the voluntary sector and community health services. We also work closely with schools and other local councils, and our Children’s Centre Service teams provide early help interventions.

Councillor Tracey Taylor, Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said:

“We know that the impact of the coronavirus has hit some families particularly hard. I’m pleased to say that over the last year we’ve been able to support thousands of local people to cover food and other essentials.

This support will continue with the extension of the Department for Work and Pensions Covid Local Support Grant into the summer, which means £2.1million of funding for vulnerable families in Nottinghamshire.

“We’ve also made significant progress helping children in low income families, so that they can achieve their full potential in education and at work and have a brighter future.

“I want to recognise all the hard work that has been done and thank everyone involved. We’ve seen resilience and determination within our communities with people helping each other out and I know that it has made a real difference to people’s lives.”

The Covid Local Support Grant will provide food vouchers for families with children in Nottinghamshire who qualify for free school meals, and is being delivered through schools, colleges, and early years childcare settings, such as nurseries and childminders, who will make contact with eligible people about the scheme.

The Covid Local Support Grant will run for five weeks over the school summer holiday period, helping to support low-income families.

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