The DWP just sent a Christmas ‘f*ck you’ to millions of hungry kids

The DWP logo around christmas items
Steve Topple

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may as well be trolling millions of hungry children. Because two days before Christmas, it sent a effective ‘fuck you’ to all of them.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme and the DWP

The Covid Winter Grant is a scheme for low-income households. The DWP’s Twitter account is currently promoting it:

Back in November, the government noted that:

Building on the significant support given to the most vulnerable during the pandemic, a new £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme will be run by councils in England.

The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80% earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period to the end of March 2021.

The Guardian reported that the Tories put it in place after a campaign by Marcus Rashford.

Bowing to pressure?

The footballer had been speaking out about the lack of government support for children on Free School Meals during the holidays. But his campaign was broader than this. It was ultimately calling for measures to end child food poverty altogether. Following the government’s announcement on the Covid Winter Grant scheme, Rashford said:

I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK

But he noted that:

There is still so much more to do, and my immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn’t quite low enough. But the intent the government have shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that.

Sadly, the reality of the Winter Grant isn’t quite what is now being trumpeted by the DWP.

Back in the real world

I live in Bromley, London. I know that the Winter Grant’s value is £45 in our borough. This is being explained to families via their child’s school. The grant will cover Christmas and the February half term only:

Covid Winter Grant Email

Hmm. As I tweeted:

£1.55 a day is just based on the school holidays for our son’s school, plus weekends at Christmas and in February. If, like the DWP said, you were to spread it out from December 2020 to the end of March 2021 it would be 37p a day.

I’m not sure what planet the DWP and the Tory government live on. But even with my high-end calculation of £2.14 a day, in the real world this doesn’t stretch very far.

Reality check one

Take my pre-payment meter-based gas and electric. The combined cost of these per day is around £2.20. And that’s with us limiting our use of the gas (I’m currently sat writing this in multiple layers of clothing). So, if like the DWP says I can use the Winter Grant to ‘ensure’ my child is “warm” – clearly it depends on your definition of this. At best, £2.14 wouldn’t cover my utilities for a day. Extra layers of clothes it is, then.

What about the DWP’s claim the grant is to keep my child “well fed”?

Our son is 14 years old. He’s nearly 5′ 11″, wears an adult size medium – although to be fair he is slim. Oh, and he eats as much as I do. So, based on averages – his food costs would be around £5.41 a day. Crudely divide that across three meals, and that’s £1.80 per meal. So, the DWP’s generous £2.14 would cover the lunch he would get at school if he was on Free School Meals. That would leave us 34p a day for utilities. In other words, about 3.7 hours worth of gas and electric.

Reality check two

So, thanks to the DWP I can either give my son:

  • Nearly a full day of gas and electric.
  • One meal and maybe a bag of crisps.
  • One meal and 3.7 hours of gas and electric.

This is best case scenario. At worst, my bottom end calculation of 37p a day would go unnoticed in most families’ budgets. Moreover, schools give it to you in the form of a supermarket voucher. Technically, you should probably divide the voucher up between the equivalent number of shops you’ll do while your child is off school. In reality, most people will use it on one shop and that’s it. People don’t have the time to be budgeting to that level of detail.

Herein lie the problems with the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

Money for bombs but not for hungry kids

Firstly, it would be easy to think that it’s designed by people who don’t live in the real world; those whose intentions are well-meaning, but don’t really have a clue. I don’t think this is the case.

What we’re seeing with the Covid Grant, as we’ve seen with (for example) the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit, is political spin. The DWP announced that it was spending £170m “to support children, families and the most vulnerable over winter”. To many people, £170m would sound like a lot of money. But in terms of government spending, it’s tiny; 0.09% of the DWP’s total spending on pensions and welfare in 2019/20, for example. Or to put it another way, 0.7% of the increase in the defence budget over the next four years. So, as always – we’ve got the money to pay for bombs and technology capable of killing people. But we can only afford a fraction of that to support millions of hungry children in the UK.

£45 is nothing to many families in the real world. We should stop accepting the meagre scraps off the Tory government’s plate, and start demanding proper wages, proper social security, proper housing, and ultimately a right to a fair and decent life for all. Because all it’s offering is lip service.

Featured image via giftpundits – pixabay and Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. On average, the yearly total paid out in bonuses to DWP staff; who manage to get you kicked off of benefits, are…..drum roll please….. £45million. This can of course be verified by the Canary or looking up gov.uk
      Plague Island (UK) is an open prison run by criminals and now backed up by israeli trained police, who have set up snatch squads of ten officers. We also have the same drones flying overhead as there are in Palestine, where they are used not only for surveillance but assassination too.
      Our only hope is as an entity, the citizens, is taking the Cabinet to court on charges of human rights abuses and abuse of public office. Let us not forget, they; politicians and police, ARE public servants! Aren’t they? I did get that right didn’t I? THEY WORK FOR US!

    2. Whot the Eck this government has brutalized the DWP JCP they made it a stick to beat you with the rules need to be taking back before this lot got into power even Blair with brown change it for the worse untill all realise it can happen to them that we all need to show them no more

    3. The current spending on the furlough scheme is about £47 billion pounds, the Bounce Back Loan scheme £16 billion, the Small business grant fund, and the retail hospitality and leisure grant fund £12.4 billion. The Business rates holidays for retail, nurseries, hospitality & leisure £11.4 billion.
      Other support for business £22.5 Billion. A grand total of £109,800,000,000 in support for business and that is only the current costs to the end of January.

      Welfare Benefits, which include, sickness benefit, disability benefit, disability living allowance, personal independence payment (PIP), carers allowance, and attendance allowance is £47.2 billion. Only a coincidence that this is the same amount as the furlough scheme. However, the businesses and individuals who are claiming this, an amount of £2,500 per month per individual person maximum, were not required to be raped of their dignity, be interrogated by individuals who would feel more at home if they were employed by the KGB. and who are hell bent on doing whatever it takes to deny them of this benefit.

      This Country has lost its last thread of social compassion, sadly, I am no longer able to say that I am proud to be British.

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