Image: Unsplash / Nico Smit

Coventry City Council unable to provide food vouchers for local families over Christmas

There was widespread disappointment in Coventry this Christmas as the local council was unable to provide funding for food vouchers.

A scheme, which was first introduced in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, has provided holiday food vouchers for children receiving free school meals.

Coventry City Council was granted a £6.45 million government Household Support Fund grant earlier this year, yet has said it cannot continue to fund food vouchers due to a threefold increase in demand. Over the past year, more than a dozen councils (including Birmingham) have ditched food voucher programmes in favour of providing other forms of support, and Coventry has followed suit with this announcement.

We are working hard to stretch the funding and ensure we support the people who need it most

Spokesperson for Coventry City Council

A Council spokesperson said: “We are working hard to stretch the funding and ensure we support the people who need it most.”

They also emphasised that the Council had “worked hard” to ensure other forms of support were available to the vulnerable, including access to food parcels, food for children attending holiday activities, and food programmes which run over school holidays.

Coventry South MP, Zarah Sultana, who has previously campaigned for universal free school meals for primary school students, described the move as a “huge blow” to local families, particularly at Christmas time. Sultana petitioned Parliament to urgently release more funding for councils.

She also wrote to Michael Gove – Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – asking him to release more funding “immediately”, so councils can help residents over Christmas and develop a “viable long term plan” for funding local government.

Sultana also raised concerns about the fact that many families rely on state support to meet their basic needs and pledged to continue to push for the policy changes to end poverty “once and for all”.

Gove recognised councils were facing challenging times and has announced a provisional local government finance settlement, which will increase funding available for councils in England in 2024 to 2025 by 6.5% in nominal terms.

The decision comes amid a gloomy outlook for the Council’s finances.

Coventry City Council recently forecasted a £30 million budget shortfall for the next financial year and has blamed years of underfunding for this “financial crisis”, with councillors expressing fears that it may have to declare itself effectively bankrupt.


Comments (1)

  • S K Chatterley

    How much is the councils capital budget versus day to budget?

    Who are those deemed as priority and why.

    Are councillors being paid all their expenses?

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