Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Coronavirus

(asked on 11th February 2021) - View Source

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what (a) policies and (b) grant and funding programmes his Department has introduced to provide support to individuals and organisations in response to the covid-19 outbreak; and what funding has been allocated to each of those programmes in the 2020-21 financial year.


Answered by
Victoria Prentis Portrait
Victoria Prentis
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
This question was answered on 26th February 2021

Since March the Government’s priority has been to save lives and protect jobs, businesses, and livelihoods. To support workers and businesses across all sectors the Government has provided an unprecedented package of support worth more than £280 billion.

My Department has introduced a number of support packages to avoid the loss of productive capacity, prevent disproportionate harm to the economy or society and to protect vulnerable groups against the effects of Covid-19. These are as follows:

  1. Clinical Extremely Vulnerable individuals – in March 2020, Defra put in place £212m of packages to support individuals defined as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. This included food boxes delivered to those that were shielding and the set-up of the National Shielding helpline.
  2. Food for economically vulnerable individuals – In April 2020, Defra secured funding, via a DCMS managed scheme for the voluntary and charity sectors, to support the distribution of grants worth £16m to front line charities who were best placed to respond to the immediate needs of economically vulnerable people. The majority of this funding was provided to FareShare. In November 2020, building on the support given to the most vulnerable during the initial months of the pandemic, the Government announced a winter support package of interventions to support the economically vulnerable. The winter package included a further £16m of funding for Defra to support food charities with the purchasing and distribution of food to the vulnerable over a 16-week period starting from the beginning of December. This funding stream is being managed by the food redistributor FareShare.
  3. The Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant – a further scheme to support people struggling to afford food and other essential supplies was announced on 10 June 2020. The £63m package of support was distributed to Local Authorities to make discretionary one-off emergency payments to people in their communities in need.
  4. Emergency surplus food grant – In April 2020, through the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Defra launched a series of grant opportunities to support the redistribution of surplus food to those most in need. Defra made £3.25m available for this Covid-19 emergency grant. The primary focus of the fund is to enable not-for-profit organisations both large and small to overcome barriers to the distribution of surplus food that would otherwise be wasted in the wake of Covid-19.
  5. Zoo Animals Fund – In May 2020 the Government launched the Zoo Support Fund. This initial £14 million envelope for zoos was increased to up to £100 million (with final expenditure subject to zoos’ submitting successful applications) in August 2020 when the Zoo Support Fund was replaced by the Zoo Animals Fund. These funds have been created for the purpose of providing for zoos which, due to a coronavirus-related drop in income, are experiencing severe financial difficulties and need support in caring for their animals. These funds were introduced to ensure the welfare of zoo animals, including when zoos are closing, downsizing or rehoming their collections.
  6. Fisheries Response Fund (FRF) – The FRF provided up to £9 million in funding for catching and aquaculture businesses with payments to individual businesses capped at £10k. The FRF covered fixed costs for the period April to June 2020. A further £1 million was also made available for projects to encourage domestic selling through the Domestic Seafood Supply scheme.
  7. Seafood Response Fund (SRF) – The SRF was announced on 21 February to support catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses across the UK which continue to be impacted by Covid-19. The scheme will be similar to the FRF, providing grants to eligible businesses to assist them in covering their fixed costs for the period January-March 2021. Further details are expected shortly, with the scheme opening to applications in early March.
  8. Dairy Response Fund (DRF) – The DRF was a fund to provide support to eligible dairy farmers in England who have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Eligible farmers were entitled to up to £10,000 each to cover 70% of their losses incurred across April and May as a result of a drop in price. The fund opened on 18 June 2020 and closed on 11 September 2020. The DRF paid 132 farmers a total of £1,017,250.
  9. Changes to the Textile Grant Fund – Defra also worked with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to alter the requirements of the Textile Grant Fund so that the grant could be used for capital costs to reconfigure a business to comply with Covid-19 safety measures, where this forms an integral part of an innovative proposal/project; and to streamline the application process so that these funds could be allocated more quickly.
  10. Arms length bodies – A number of Defra arms-length bodies including RGB Kew and the Forestry Commission have been seriously impacted by the pandemic, in particular through a significant reduction in revenue generating activity. We have worked closely with HMT to address this and provided additional budget cover of £19m to provide some protection and a viable operating model going into 21/22.
  11. Green Recovery Challenge Fund – This fund enabled environmental charities and their partners to kick-start a range of nature projects that had been adversely affected by the pandemic. Funding was made available quickly in order to create and retain jobs in the nature sector. £40m was allocated to the fund in 20/21.
  12. European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – £800k was also made available in England through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19. This included £300k for improvements to health and safety on board fishing vessels and £500k for ports or harbour infrastructure projects which reduce the impact of Covid-19. This funding has now been committed and is no longer open to new applications.

In addition, Defra has worked with delivery bodies and partners to introduce a number of regulatory easements to ensure regulatory obligations remain proportionate in these challenging circumstances, including in the areas of veterinary medicines, environmental regulations and marketing standards inspections. Specific interventions were also made with key Departments to ease regulations to support food supply, including competition law exclusions and driver hours flexibilities.

This content was generated for your convenience by Parallel Parliament and does not form part of the official record.
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