Lifeline scheme offering food vouchers to needy families in Portsmouth to come to an end

A SCHEME which dishes out thousands of pounds in vouchers to cash-strapped families across Portsmouth is set to come to and end.

Portsmouth City Council has announced it will soon be ending its free voucher scheme supporting the island’s poorest residents.

The scheme is ending due to funding from central government being pulled – but not before the council dishes out another wave of vouchers.

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The food voucher scheme helps thousands of people in Portsmouth but is set to come to end. Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

In the coming days, families of up to 8,000 children who qualify for free school meals will benefit from £50 food vouchers, which can be used over the Easter holidays.

Councillor Suzy Horton, cabinet member for children, families and education, said: ‘The value of these vouchers – £25 per week instead of £15 – is higher than in previous schemes. This is because we know many families are facing higher bills from rising energy and food prices. On top of that, school holidays always mean extra costs.

‘The vouchers will give many families in the city a bit of much-needed help at a time when budgets are getting very tight.’

The £50 Easter holiday vouchers are paid for by the government's household support fund, given to councils following the reduction in universal credit last year. This ends on March 31.

A spokesman for Portsmouth City Council added: ‘As the council can't provide vouchers without government funding, this is likely to be the last such scheme.’

Families are notified about the scheme by their school, and sent the vouchers by email. Schools know who qualifies for a voucher by looking at free school meal records, so families don't need to apply.

However, if a family qualifies for free school meals, and hasn't been contacted about vouchers by Tuesday, March 22, they should get in touch with their school immediately.

Other support is being offered to families, with the HAF Fun Pompey scheme providing food and activities to children aged five to 16.

Families with children eligible for free school meals can book places for free. There are also some free spaces for other children. For more details and to book, parents and carers should go to: www.pycportsmouth.co.uk/haffunpompey

Families who are worried about the cost of meals during school holidays can find information on foodbanks and community food schemes by searching ‘help with food’ at www.portsmouth.gov.uk

Anyone worried about money can get free, impartial advice on how to manage debt, save money and receive all the benefits they’re entitled to by visiting www.portsmouth.gov.uk/money.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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