Nearly 6,000 Islington families to get £200 food vouchers

Council Leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz

Council Leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz - Credit: BBC LDRS

Nearly 6,000 of the families most in need in Islington are getting £200 worth of supermarket vouchers to help buy food and festive treats.

Islington Council is spending nearly £1.2million of money from the government’s household support fund to pay for the vouchers.

It also gives food vouchers to families eligible for free school meals to help pay for meals through the school holidays until next Easter.

Council leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz said: “We know it is an expensive time for a lot of our residents.

“[These] will not only save families money on their shopping, but it frees them up to pay for vital things like bills and also hopefully an extra present for children this Christmas.”

She said the £1,000 cut to universal credit “was a callous act” which “made life very difficult for residents".

The council also agreed to increase its council tax support scheme for 19,000 low-income families to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic.

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It will see them paying just 5 per cent of their council tax, rather than the current 8.5 per cent.

During this financial year, 21,605 families got up to £150 off their council tax bill, which cost the council £2.5m. The previous year as the pandemic hit hard 23,677 households received the award.

The council is now reducing the council tax for the working-age low-income families by 95 per cent. The new deal will mean eligible families will see a cut of an average of £42 from their bills.

Cllr Satnam Gill said: “This year the scheme will be more important than ever,” with the impact of the pandemic, rising fuel costs and cuts to universal credit.

He said it will help those “who struggle to make ends meet".

Caroline Russell, (Green, Highbury East) welcomed the scheme to help those in the “least resilient financial health.”

She said the move “will help some of the poorest households in our borough at what we know is a difficult time.”

She raised concerns that 1,354 families already getting support are in arrears.

“Even those small amounts of debt can be crushing when you are budgeting on very tight margins.”

Former mayor Cllr Theresa Debono, (Labour, Highbury West) told the full council meeting: “Like never before, those on the lowest incomes in Islington need our support to get back on their feet.”