A special Cabinet meeting has been called by Rotherham’s Labour councillors to look at proposals to make sure families and small businesses get the support they need over the Christmas period.
The meeting will look at plans to distribute over £1million from the COVID Winter Grant scheme to help families struggling to afford food and utility bills or other related essentials.
Local Labour councillors are proposing to use the funding to:
- Make sure all eligible children in the borough receive vouchers to the value of free school meals for the Christmas and February half term holidays
- Provide additional support for the Rotherham Food in Crisis Partnership Christmas appeal, which is expected to provide food for 300 families requiring support this Christmas
- Extend eligibility for support with the purchase of school uniforms to more families facing financial difficulties
- Provide £250,000 to support households in financial need who are facing unexpected or unaffordable bills, to prevent them from falling into financial crisis, subject to engagement and support from the Council’s Advocacy and Appeals service or partners.
Councillors will also discuss plans to distribute £664,000 to micro-enterprises and small businesses that are mobile or run from home. The scheme would also be open to people who are freelance and self-employed. If approved, it will enable those businesses to receive discretionary grants of £500 – or up to £1,000 in some cases.
The proposals are set to be considered at a specially called Rotherham Council Cabinet meeting on Thursday 10th December.
The Leader of Rotherham Council, Councillor Chris Read, said:
“We want to act quickly to ensure that families and our smallest businesses across Rotherham get some extra support in the run up to Christmas and over the winter months during the pandemic.
“It can be stressful time in any year. But the impacts of the COVID pandemic means that having what might be regarded as a normal Christmas is going to be difficult for many vulnerable and low-income families. After everything else that’s happened, this shouldn’t be the year to be worrying about the lack of free school meals, the cost of a new school jumper, or an unexpected electricity bill. Hopefully, by using this grant funding quickly, we can ease some of those worries and make sure that every child in the borough has the Christmas they deserve.
“At the same time, whilst we hope this small grant funding will give a little relief to the self-employed or others who have fallen through the cracks of other business support funding, we are acutely aware that it is only a little bit of relief. That is why I’ve written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government calling for a commitment to provide further support to areas like Rotherham, which have experienced a longer period of Tier 3 restrictions than most of the country.”