On 2nd April, the Government established a Ministerial Task Force chaired by the DEFRA Minister, Victoria Prentis MP, to ensure that vulnerable individuals have access to food and other essential supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. The taskforce’s membership spans departments across government and includes ministers from the devolved administrations, who have been closely engaged on proposals.
The work of the Task Force is divided into two groups: non-shielded (those who are not clinically vulnerable but may have difficulty accessing food due to disability or having to self-isolate) and economically vulnerable (those who are unable to afford food and other essential supplies due to the economic impact of COVID-19).
What the Government has done:
Support for non-shielded individuals that are unable to access food:
- The establishment of the COVID-19 Supermarket Referral Scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to put non-shielded vulnerable individuals in contact with supermarkets so they can secure an online delivery slot.
- Local Authorities and some charities can now refer non-shielded vulnerable individuals to supermarkets.
- The web-based referral system is now live for extending the scheme to all Local Authorities.
Support for the economically vulnerable:
- One strand of this work is the distribution of funds to frontline food charities, and the other is providing additional funding to Local Authorities to assist those who cannot afford food and other necessities.
- DEFRA received £13m from DCMS to fund the Food Supply for the Vulnerable - Support for Frontline Charities Programme. This was topped up by £3m from DEFRA. The programme supports frontline food charities and is delivered through charity partners including WRAP, FareShare and other food distributors.
- On 10th June, the Prime Minister announced additional funding of £63m to support those who cannot afford food and other essential supplies. This will be allocated to Local Authorities and support will be provided to people in severe financial difficulty at the discretion of Local Authorities.
With regards to the shielded programme, which is led by MHCLG, significant progress has been made in this area:
Support for shielded individuals:
- As of 9 June, over 2.8m food parcels have been delivered to those who are shielding.
- Guidance for those unable to access food and essential supplies can be found on the following gov.uk webpage here.
- DEFRA continues to encourage those who no longer need food parcel deliveries to deregister.
You can read a letter from the Environment Secretary to MPs outlining the Government's approach below.
|Government Coronavirus Support Task Force Letter||141.27 KB|