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Millions to fund care for vulnerable youngsters in Tameside

Millions of pounds of funding for vulnerable children in Tameside has been approved by town hall bosses.

The Household Support Fund was extended once again by the government earlier this year, a decision praised by council leader Cllr Ged Cooney. Tameside will get £2.225m of that in order to provide free school meals and holiday vouchers for those in need.

Although the majority of the sum (£1.28m) will go towards the free school meal vouchers, money is also allocated for helping families deal with energy bills and supporting food banks, council papers confirmed.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have made previous awards of Household Support Funding to Local Authorities since 2021, and it was not expected to continue after March 2024. Following significant lobbying, a late decision to extend the scheme for six months was announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget on March 6, 2024. 

Celebrating the funding at the latest cabinet meeting on June 19, Cllr Eleanor Mills, executive member for population health and wellbeing, said: “I think it’s great we’re able to reinvest into our people considering the level of need and poverty in the area at the moment. 

“I really hope to see the proposals coming forward from the next government with changes such as breakfast clubs we’ve been promised. This is vital in how we help children grow.”

Council papers explained that previous funding rounds have been complemented by Cost of Living Payments paid directly by DWP to those on the lowest incomes, at around £900 per year. The government has not extended the provision of Cost of Living Payments beyond 2023/24 and therefore it is expected that there will be more households experiencing financial pressures who may need additional support, the meeting heard.

Moving onto other business, the executive cabinet, meeting in the Tameside One building in Ashton, approved additional funding of £150,000 for Godley Green and £128,000 for St Petersfield housing developments. The Homes England funding will go towards pushing both schemes forward.

The other key items which garnered excitement were the strategies for the overhaul of the Stalybridge public realm and the Ashton Mayoral Development Zone, which were also given the thumbs up.

Under the new plans, Stalybridge would see new woodland-inspired footpaths and walkways integrated into the town centre alongside a makeover of the two public squares. The reduction of vehicular traffic in the centre was seen as a big plus in the plans by the cabinet.

Cllr Cooney said there has been a big problem with cars bumping up on pavements and causing a nuisance in the town. He added: “I’m pleased with the amount being spent on SB. I don’t think there is one town in the borough who wouldn’t want the amount of investment going into the town.”

The Ashton Mayoral Development Zone outlines the council’s growth ambitions at St Petersfield, Ashton Moss, and Ashton Town Centre for new industry and employment. AMDZ was praised by deputy leader Cllr Bill Fairfoull who said this would ‘put Tameside on the map’ when it came to job creation – something he admits has been a challenge for the borough.

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