Councillor Mans explained: “It’s obviously not possible to introduce a ‘voucher scheme’ ourselves for this half-term, but it is my intention that Hampshire will provide the same level of support for the half term break that would have otherwise been provided through the Government’s previous voucher scheme, by targeting support to those families in real need via food banks, charities and other relevant organisations.
“The County Council is already facing huge unplanned financial pressures as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and not helped by the latest tranche of funding from Government which was significantly lower than we expected. Nonetheless, supporting vulnerable families during the school holidays must be a priority. By using food banks, charities and other organisations, we hope to do this.
“This will be partly funded by additional finances identified in the spring for Hampshire County Councillors’ grants to help support crises in local areas during the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, we are exploring other sources of potential funding within the County Council to contribute where possible.
“I am also encouraging Hampshire’s district and borough councils to make use of funding they still have available, which was awarded to them from the Government’s coronavirus Welfare Assistance Fund via Hampshire County Council – precisely for use in such scenarios.
“However, this is very clearly a national issue, requiring a proper national solution, but any action we can take locally to help address the immediate problem in Hampshire is important. I will be writing to the Secretary of State and Hampshire’s MPs to press for Government to implement a long-term strategy to cover the Christmas and Easter school holidays - and help those families who have been specifically and significantly affected by the pandemic.”