Decision Maker: Leader of the Council
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
Note and confirm previous activity and delegated decision-making to accept the grant and deploy initial support over the October Half-term.
Confirm overall use and governance for the full grant up to the required end-date of end of March 2021 – updated to reflect changing demands and required support arrangements subsequent to Decision 21/00062 (Summer Grant decision).
Detail relevant delegations to Corporate Director Finance for ongoing management of the grant, including making amendments to funding arrangements and deployment subject to consultation with the Leader.
• Reason for the decision
Government announced in October the Household Support Grant, which is in line with previous grants issued (Covid Winter Grant and Covid Local Support Grant). While previous acceptance and management of related grants was possible via delegated authority arising from previous decisions, it is appropriate and necessary for these previous arrangements to be noted and the ongoing acceptance of the Grant to be subject to Executive Member decision-making.
This decision is required to confirm KCC’s acceptance of the additional grant monies and its planned use.
• Background – Provide brief additional context
An urgent decision was taken in November 2020 to accept the Government’s £4.5m Covid Winter Grant and allocate this into 4 areas: Free School Meals, District allocation to target vulnerable households, KCC services to distribute to families in need, and support for residents with food and utility bills.
In March 2021, the Government wrote to advise there would be an extension of the funding, and an additional £1.5m allocated to KCC. A further decision was taken to accept this funding and allocate this to supermarket vouchers for families of children in receipt of benefits related free school meals during Easter Holidays 2021.
In April, the Government awarded a further £1.06m and renamed the grant the Covid Local Support Grant. In June the Government notified LAs that they were extending the Covid Local Support Grant to September for a final time, and issuing an additional £4.239m. A decision was taken in accordance with previous decisions to authorise the provision of free school meals support through the summer holidays and delegating authority to the Corporate Director Finance to take the necessary actions to spend the grant money in line with the grant conditions and implement the decision, together with authority to accept any future grant provided for similar purposes and to spend this in accordance with the governance framework put in place by the decision.
• Options (other options considered but discarded)
The option of turning down the grant was rejected as there are many Kent families in need who will benefit from receiving this support.
We considered providing all funding to Districts to deliver through localised solutions however there are some elements of support that would be best provided at a county level, for example Free School Meals.
• How the proposed decision supports the Interim Strategic Plan:
This contributes to the strategic outcome of “Children & Young People in Kent get the best start in life”, by helping to keep vulnerable families out of crisis.
As Leader of the Council, I agree to:
1) Confirm and endorse the arrangements put in place via Officer Decision 21/0008, taken under delegated authority arising from Key Decision 21/00062 by the Corporate Director for Finance, to accept the Household Support Grant in full for use in accordance with the guidance published by Department of Work and Pensions and relevant terms and conditions.
2) Note that Officer Decision 21/0008 committed £750k of the accepted grant to the provision of supermarket vouchers to families with children in receipt of benefits-related Free School Meals or families in need of support through KSAS during the October 2021 school.
3) Approve use of the grant to support the provision of vouchers to families with children in receipt of benefits-related Free School Meals or families in need of support through KSAS during the Christmas 2021, February and Easter 2022 school holidays.
4) Approve the use of the remainder of the Household Support Grant over the winter period to the end of March 2022 as set out in section 3 of the associated Executive Decision Report.
5) Authorise the Corporate Director Finance, in consultation with the Leader to take any other actions, within the scope of the grant management framework, needed to ensure that the grant is spent in full by the date stipulated by the Department for Work and Pensions, including reviewing, revising and amending the funding allocations set out in the Executive Decision Report.
6) Authorise the Corporate Director Finance, in consultation with the Leader, to take other necessary actions, including but not limited to entering into contracts or other legal agreements, as required to implement this decision.
7) Authorise the Corporate Director Finance in consultation with the Leader, to accept and administer any further grant monies providing they are given by government on very similar terms of reference and that they can be appropriately managed under the funding / governance framework put in place by this decision
Urgent item?: Yes
Publication date: 22/11/2021
Date of decision: 22/11/2021