David Butterfield

1. How did you distribute the COVID Winter Grant to vulnerable families, i.e. cash, food parcels or retail supermarket vouchers?
2. Did you use this grant to distribute financial support to families of children eligible for Free School Meals?
3. How many children were eligible for Free School Meals and how many children claimed financial support via the grant scheme?
4. Did you use the grant to distribute support to other vulnerable families / individuals and if so, which groups, i.e. homeless etc.?
5. If using supermarket vouchers
(a) which supplier(s) did you use to distribute the vouchers?
(b) how did you choose a supplier?
(c) what were your top 3 mandatory requirements for the service?
(d) did you coordinate the ordering to all beneficiaries/recipients, or was access delegated to schools to administer and order?
(e) did you enter into a direct contract with the supplier or call off via a framework?
(f) when does your contract end?
6. Following Government's extension of the COVID Winter Grant, will you continue to fund Free School Meal vouchers in May half-term and summer holidays?
7. Which role(s) and job functions manage the contract for this service?

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 9210  

Dear Enquirer,

INFORMATION REQUEST

Thank you for your request for information which will be dealt with under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, we
will let you know the likely charges before proceeding.

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Please note, that due to the recent outbreak of Covid-19, there may be a
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Kind regards

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk

Northumberland County Council

1 Attachment

Our Ref: 9210   

Dear Enquirer,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST

I refer to your Freedom of Information request in relation to COVID Winter
Grant to vulnerable families.

Right of Access

Section 1(1) of the Act provides any person making a request for
information to a public authority is entitled.

(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds
information of the description specified in the request (which Section
1(6) of the Act designates as the "duty to confirm or deny"), and

(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.

The right is to obtain access to the information itself and not to the
document or record which contains it.

The Act creates a general right of access to information held by public
authorities subject to various exemptions.

Northumberland County Council confirms that it holds the information you
have requested, please see the following information in response.

Q1. How did you distribute the COVID Winter Grant to vulnerable families,
i.e. cash, food parcels or retail supermarket vouchers?
A1. Northumberland County Council used all resources and support available
to deliver the CWSG. Support included PayPoint Payments, HUGG Supermarket
Vouchers, Direct Hot Food Delivery (Local Community Food Providers), Hot
Food Collection & Take Away (Local Community Food Providers), Food Parcels
& Hampers (Local Community Food Providers)
Q2. Did you use this grant to distribute financial support to families of
children eligible for Free School Meals?
A2. Yes in accordance with the DWP COVID Winter Support Grant Scheme
payments were made to all families with an eligible FSM entitlement for
the non-term time periods. 1 x payment per FSM child in the household.
Q3. How many children were eligible for Free School Meals and how many
children claimed financial support via the grant scheme?
A3. Number of HUGGG vouchers for children in schools eligible for FSM
follows for the Christmas, February half-term and Easter holidays produced
as follows:
Christmas - 5869 eligible for vouchers (£176,070 distributed), 86%
redemption
February half-term - 6410 eligible for vouchers (£192,300 distributed),
93% redemption
Easter  - 6322 eligible for vouchers (£284,490 distributed), 90%
redemption
Number of children eligible for FSM in schools receiving grant via local
arrangements:
Christmas -  2940 (£88,205)
February half-term - 2969 eligible (£89,070)
Easter  - 3017 eligible  (£135,765).
Q4. Did you use the grant to distribute support to other vulnerable
families / individuals and if so, which groups, i.e. homeless etc.?
A4. 

* Low Income Families contacting Council for financial support and
assistance who met scheme criteria/eligibility 
* Households with children who were presenting to professionals/trusted
partners with food insecurities/ food poverty
* Post 16 learners with an FSM entitlement 
* Care Lavers 
* Families fleeing Domestic Violence or in Refuge 
* Homeless
* Vulnerable Households in CAT E 'poor fuel homes' who registered for
financial assistance for fuel 
* Vulnerable Adults contacting Councl for financial support and
assistance who met scheme criteria/eligibility 
* Vulnerable Households with a Disability contacting Councl for
financial support and assistance who met scheme criteria/eligibility 

Q5. If using supermarket vouchers
Q.5a which supplier(s) did you use to distribute the vouchers?
A5a.  HUGGG vouchering platform
Q.5b how did you choose a supplier?
A5b. HUGGG were selected in consultation with Northumberland County
Council's procurement team.
Q.5c what were your top 3 mandatory requirements for the service?
A5c. 1. Readily available and proven technology in place to meet our
requirements 2. Breadth of choice of supermarkets available to
parents/carers, including online redemption with some supermarkets, 3. 
Ease of usage of system for officers, schools and parents, backed up with
excellent technical support.
Q.5d did you coordinate the ordering to all beneficiaries/recipients, or
was access delegated to schools to administer and order?
A5d.  Access was delegated to schools to administer and order in order to
adhere to Data Protection regulations.
Q.5e did you enter into a direct contract with the supplier or call off
via a framework?
A5e.  After appropriate due diligence was undertaken by the Council's
legal team, HUGGG were added to the Council's approved supplier list.
Q.5f when does your contract end?
A5f. A time-limited access agreement was signed with Huggg to enable the
distribution of FSM via a vouchering system.  Any intention to continue to
use a vouchering platform in future by the Council would need to take
account of longer term requirements and any procurement implications.
Q6. Following Government's extension of the COVID Winter Grant, will you
continue to fund Free School Meal vouchers in May half-term and summer
holidays?
A6. The Council has been allocated additional grant that we are using to
provide FSM at May half-term.  At this point it is unclear whether the
Council will be able to provide FSM during the summer holidays.
Q7. Which role(s) and job functions manage the contract for this service?
A7.  Refer to A5f.
Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request an internal review by writing within 2 months
from the date of this response to the Information Governance Office:

Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
NE61 2EF

Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]

Information Commissioner

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a
right by Section 50 of the Act to apply to the Information Commissioner
for a decision as to whether your request has been dealt with in
accordance with the requirements of the Act at:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Tel: 0303 123 1113
Email: [email address]

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours faithfully

FOI Coordinator -
Information Governance Office
Northumberland County Council
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF

Tel: 0345 600 6400
Email: [Northumberland County Council request email]
Web: http://www.northumberland.gov.uk

David Butterfield

FOI Coordinator
Information Governance Office

Thank you for your prompt response which is very much appreciated.

Kind regards,

David Butterfield
Managing Director