Issue details

21/00107 - Household Support Grant

Proposed decision:

 

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.

 

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 22/11/2021

This decision will be taken under urgency procedures.

Reason for urgency:
Final formal confirmation of the full funding scale, total spend deadline and activity timelines were not received from Government with sufficient notice to allow for appropriate KCC Governance processes to commence at an earlier stage. It is therefore not possible to comply with normal Executive Decision governance timescales while meeting government deadlines and the need to deliver the relevant funding support to residents. There is an urgent need to allocate and distribute the grant funding as quickly as possible to reach those residents and households most in need of financial support over the winter months. It is also important that schools are advised as early as possible that free school meal provision in school holidays will continue and include the Easter holidays. The grant is strictly time limited and needs to be spent in full by the end of March 2022 to avoid any unspent grant being clawed back by Government.

Decision due: 22 Nov 2021 by Leader of the Council

Lead member: Leader of the Council

Lead director: Zena Cooke

Contact: Hannah Lucey-Lamb 03000417963 Email: hannah.lucey-lamb@kent.gov.uk.

Financial implications: The Household Support Grant provides the Council £11.065m to support the most vulnerable residents in the County over the winter period without a direct impact on the Council’s budget.

Legal implications: Funding must be used in accordance with the guidance set by government, and the terms and conditions of the grant. KCC will apply appropriate legal mechanisms as part of issuing or deploying any grant monies to ensure any partners or third parties in receipt of grant funding remain compliant.

Equalities implications: Funding will be allocated to pupils eligible for FSM, or who prior to becoming home educated or without a school place received FSMs, for which there is clear, unambiguous eligibility criteria. KSAS will allocate funds following referrals made by practitioners, working with families, who have assessed that family finances negatively impact on their ability to regularly and consistently provide nutritious meals for their children. Projects undertaken using this funding will conduct a full EQIA, and equalities implications will be reviewed as work progresses.

Decisions