COVID Winter Grant Scheme

This is a new government initiative, paid through the council, specifically to support households suffering financial hardship as a direct result of the impact of COVID-19.

The government has awarded money to Hillingdon Council, as part of the COVID Winter Grant Scheme, to provide support to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic during the winter period. 

The funding will be used to help those struggling to primarily meet the cost of food and utility bills. As school holidays can be a particularly challenging time for families, anyone with children eligible for benefits-related free school meals will receive a COVID-19 winter payment. 

Please note: This scheme will run until no later than no later than Friday 16 April 2021. Once funds have been exhausted, no further payments will be made.  

In this section

Temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to no recourse to public funds groups

On 13 January, the Department for Education (DfE) temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

These groups are:

  • children of Zambrano carers (a person from a non-EEA state whose residence is required in order to enable a child or dependant adult who is British to live in the UK (or the rest of the EEA).
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

DfE is also temporarily extending eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household income threshold as these families are not able to work.

This extension covers both children who are attending school and children who are self-isolating at home because they or a member of their household have tested positive for coronavirus.

Who qualifies for the COVID-19 Winter Grant Scheme? 

Households with children aged 0-19  

To be eligible for a grant, you must live in a household with children aged under 19 and be in receipt of at least one of these benefits: 

  • Income Support 
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance 
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit - as long as you're not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and your annual gross income is no more than £16,190 
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit) 
  • Universal Credit - your household income must be less than £7,400 a year after tax and not including any benefits you get

Households without children/individuals  

You may be eligible if:  

  • you are a vulnerable adult and you are known to the council's adult social care team 
  • you are a household with no recourse to public funds and you are known to the council's adult or children's social care team

If you are making a claim under 1 of the above 2 categories, you will have to demonstrate that you have been particularly affected by the pandemic and are struggling financially, ie your household income has been reduced as a direct result of the pandemic.   

Care leavers 

You may be eligible if you are a care leaver who is known to the council and currently receiving care leavers services. 

How much will households/individuals receive? 

Households with children aged 0 to 19 

  • Food - you will receive £15 per child per week for a total period of 3 weeks. This will be split into 2 separate payments:
  1. Your 1st payment will cover the 2-week Christmas break. We will aim to pay this before Christmas. 
  2. Your 2nd payment will be for February half term (1 week). This payment will be made in February.  
  • Utility costs - if you are eligible for food assistance and you live in Hillingdon, you will be entitled to a one-off payment of £35 per household, providing that you a responsible for paying fuel bills.    

Households without children/individuals

  • Food - you may be entitled to £15 per week for a maximum period of 3 weeks. This will be split into 2 separate payments:
  1. Your 1st payment will cover the 2-week Christmas break. We will aim to pay this before Christmas. 
  2. Your 2nd payment will be made in February.  Please be aware that if you receive a food parcel, you may not receive a voucher. 
  • Utility costs  - if you live in Hillingdon, you will be entitled to a one-off payment of £35 per household, providing that you a responsible for paying fuel bills. 

Care leavers 

  • Food - you will receive £15 per week for a total period of 3 weeks. This will be split into 2 separate payments:
  1. Your first payment will cover the 2-week Christmas break. We will aim to pay this before Christmas.  
  2. Your second payment will be made in February half term (1 week). 
  • Utility costs - if you are eligible for food assistance and you live in Hillingdon, you will be entitled to a one-off payment of £35 per household for help towards your utility costs, providing that you a responsible for paying fuel bills.   

How is payment made?

  • If you are eligible for assistance with food, you will receive an e-voucher that you can use towards food. This will be emailed to you.   
  • If you are eligible for a utility payment, this will be paid into your bank account. 

I think I qualify - how do I apply?

We are contacting households who qualify for free school meals, using the data provided by Hillingdon's schools in January 2021.  

We are also contacting care leavers who are currently receiving care leavers' services.  

If you are eligible for a payment, we will aim to contact you.

If you think you may be entitled to a payment based on the criteria above and you haven't heard from us yet, please complete our online form below.

Please allow 7 working days for your application to be processed and payment to be made.

Apply for a winter grant payment

What happens next?

We will review your application and carry out the necessary checks with the Department for Work and Pensions for verification purposes.

If we are able to verify your eligibility, you will receive the fuel payment of £35 via BACS transfer and the free school meal payment will be in the form of a voucher sent by email.

Further help and information

If you have any questions about the scheme, please call our Contact Centre on 01895 558200 between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Alternatively, email  

Page last updated: 29 Mar 2021