Anthony Okereke
Anthony Okereke said the government needed to step up and do more

Families in Greenwich borough with children on free school meals will get at least £100 each to help them through the cost of living crisis, councillors agreed yesterday.

About 12,000 children are on free school meals, and the council will pay £100 per child to help pay bills as inflation and soaring energy bills bite.

Other measures approved yesterday to help children on free school meals include up to £50 extra for school clothing and up to £25 for winter clothing.

Care leavers will be given £250 to help them with food costs. Food inflation reached 11.6 per cent yesterday.

Council leader Anthony Okereke called on the government to do more to help people as his cabinet approved a package of measures.

Food banks and food clubs will be given £150,000 by the council, while the annual Stay Warm, Stay Safe service aimed at vulnerable residents will also get £150,000.

There will be £300,000 for emergency support for residents in crisis, while the same sum will be allocated to discretionary housing payments to help renters.

“Warm banks” also feature, with a fund of £50,000 tol “support the creation of warm and welcoming places around the borough”.

A Community Supports scheme will also be launched where residents can donate goods, money or volunteer their time to help others in need.

Most of the money comes from a government grant offered to all councils, the Household Support Fund, but with threats of more austerity looming, Okereke called on ministers to do more.

“This is a response, but there is a wider response that we need to see from the government during the autumn budget statement,” he said.

“And I hope we can look forward to them meeting us neck and neck on the level of support that we need to give our residents, rather than us saying one thing while they’re cutting. I don’t think that’s sustainable. We’ll continue to lobby to make sure we can make them understand the difficulties our residents are facing.”

Speaking last week, when proposals were first revealed, Ivis Williams, the cabinet member for finance, resources and social value, said: “Inflation is at a 40-year high, wages are worth less, the war on Ukraine has affected food costs, energy costs are rising dramatically, and private rents are at record highs.

“All these factors are pushing our residents to the brink, and we have no option but to step in and do the right thing.”

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