Emergency funding of £10million is being rolled out by Kent County Council to help vulnerable households and businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Helping Hand Scheme includes support ranging from assisting just-managing families with heating bills and helping struggling firms stay afloat, tackling digital poverty and match-funding crowdfunded community projects providing vital local assistance.
The scheme is the latest initiative to help people and businesses in Kent under pressure, because of Coronavirus restrictions, funded by the £95m Emergency COVID Grant awarded to KCC by government over recent months.
Working with district and borough councils, and other key partners, KCC will distribute the latest tranche of money to relevant services and organisations to award to those most impacted by the current national lockdown.
The Helping Hand Scheme includes a range of targeted help, including:
- £4m for low-income individuals and households and those in financial crisis – which will be made available via council services such as the Kent Support and Assistance Service, as well as district and borough councils, voluntary and community organisations, including Kent Community Foundation, and utility companies, such as South East Water.
- £3m for businesses and the self-employed – which will be allocated through council services, district and borough councils, voluntary and community organisations, and business networks, including the Chamber of Commerce.
- £2.5m to tackle digital poverty – working with schools and colleges, district and borough councils and voluntary and community organisations, and
- £500,000 to match-fund crowdfunded community projects – that support local communities respond and recover from COVID.
Kent County Council Leader Roger Gough said: “We understand the pressures that the latest national lockdown has put on our most vulnerable households and businesses, particularly those who were just about managing.
“Our hope is this latest package of funding will significantly address the hardship Kent’s most in need individuals, families and businesses are experiencing – simply because they are unable to work, or trade, due to Coronavirus restrictions.
“I am very pleased to be able to say that, throughout the pandemic, Kent County Council has continued to provide essential services. And, together with our key partners and a host of other organisations and charities, we have ensured that all those who require extra support have received it.
“We will continue to do all we can to assist those in need during these extremely challenging, unprecedented, times.”
As well as using money received from government since March 2020 to cope with Coronavirus to boost Adult Social Care and Children’s Services and extend Winter Grants, KCC has launched the Kent & Medway Business Fund and Business Recovery Helpline, expanded the Kent Toys scheme, and provided food packages for the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Josephine McCartney, Chief Executive of Kent Community Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be able to distribute this additional funding to organisations and families who are most in need across Kent.
“As the county continues to grapple with further restrictions it is more important than ever that additional support is made available. Personal debt is on the increase and we know that families are struggling to cope financially so any additional funding in this area is most welcome. We want to thank KCC for continuing to address this need.”
If you are vulnerable and have an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support networks, you can contact the Kent Together helpline at www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether or by calling on 03000 41 92 92. It is a 24-hour service.