Emergency cash pot to help Bedfordians to eat and get basic essentials

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An emergency cash pot of more than £178,700 has been created to help people who are struggling to afford food and essentials during the coronavirus crisis in Bedford.

The money has been given to Bedford Borough Council by the Government to help people – including illegal immigrants – and others who cannot claim other types of benefits.

It’s from a £63 million emergency fund that the Government set up and then divided up among local councils in England.

The council has been told that it can “provide basic safety net support to an individual, regardless of their immigration status, if there is a genuine care need that does not arise solely from destitution.”

Council officers will be able to use their judgement to decide what legal powers and funding can be used to support individuals who are ineligible for public funds or statutory housing assistance.

Bedford’s mayor, Dave Hodgson, decided to accept the one-off grant from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with a decision he made on July 17.

“The Government anticipates that most of the funding will be spent within 12 weeks and expects local authorities to put in place appropriate procedures to prevent fraudulent applications for assistance,” said a background report to the mayor.

The council was asked to estimate how many people could be eligible for the assistance across Bedford borough, but a response was not forthcoming by the time this story was filed.

By Local Democracy Reporter
David Tooley

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