CHILDREN in Bolton will receive 'free school meals' over Christmas, under plans to help cash-strapped families

Bolton has been been given £1.1 million from the Government to support struggling families and households this month and through to next April.

The cash is from the Government's Covid Winter Grant fund.

Around £12,000 will be used to provide vouchers for children eligible for free school meals to cover Christmas, which equals £40 per children, under plans being drawn up.

The same families will receive £20 per child to cover February half-term.

The same vouchers will be given to families who have pre-school age children who are in receipt of council tax support.

There will also be support for young people aged 16-19 who are in receipt of council tax support.

Families in financial difficulty will receive help with food, gas, electric and household items ­— and support will be given to other vulnerable groups.

The council is finalising logistics surrounding how the grant will be distributed to children and families.

Cllr Anne Galloway said: “I am delighted that the government has come up with the funding to support vulnerable families and children during the winter months of this pandemic.

“Council officers have been working hard on the logistics for getting the help out to those who need support with food and heating.

"We are wanting to ensure that the group helped is wider than just those families in receipt of free school meals as many other families just miss out on this and will be struggling.”

The grants are part of the government’s long-term plan to tackle poor health, hunger and education.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey said: “No one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter.

“By empowering local authorities who know their areas best, this scheme ensures families are warm and well-fed this Christmas.

“This adds to the wide range of support already available, including £9.3 billion of additional welfare support to help families in need during the pandemic, along with mortgage holidays, support for renters, and billions in income support through the furlough scheme.”