By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Kent County Council (KCC) has agreed to find a new contractor to streamline the delivery of financial vouchers and gift cards for low-income families.
The shake up of the service for those in financial distress was agreed by KCC’s cabinet yesterday (May 16).
Currently, KCC provides millions of pounds of financial help in a range of separate services, such as Kent Support and Assistance Service (KSAS) and free school meals (FSM).
Demand for critical support, such as food, clothing and white goods, remains “high” among parents due to soaring living costs and Covid.
KCC’s deputy leader, Cllr Peter Oakford (Con), said a new provider is being sought to make County Hall’s current support system more efficient.
He said: “Throughout the pandemic, the need for our support has been significantly higher and remains very high.”
KCC says it intends to commission a new provider to connect its services more closely together by June 22, 2022, and better meet the user’s needs.
For example, the government’s FSM scheme was mobilised by councils, such as KCC, in 2020 following a public campaign to end child food poverty by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.
Under this, £30 supermarket vouchers were distributed to families in the Easter holidays in 2022, whose children usually receive a free school meal.
Meanwhile, another KCC commissioned support service, KSAS, provides up to £1million in help to residents in crisis for essentials, such as clothing.
The connected services are expected to reduce costs and save staff time.