Festive food vouchers to help families

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FAMILiES struggling to make ends meet before Christmas are being offered interest-free loans of up to £100 for food after a Yorkshire council lent £80,000 to a credit union.

Rotherham Council launched its Festive Food Fund, which will issue vouchers to spend at a local supermarket, alongside the town’s public health department and Laser Credit Union yesterday.

People must meet what the council called “strict criteria” to qualify for the voucher, and will have to repay what they borrow in instalments from February.

Roger Stone, who leads Labour-run Rotherham Council, said he came up with the idea after becoming concerned for some members of the community as a result of the recession.

“Having enough to eat, particularly at this time of year, is one of the fundamental basics of life,” he said.

“And the thought of people having to use loan sharks, doorstep lenders and pay-day loan companies just to see them through the holiday period is horrendous.

“Obviously they will have to meet the necessary criteria to obtain the loan but the credit union will be able to offer all kinds of support, which has got to be better than turning to loan sharks or other kinds of high-interest lenders.”

More details of the scheme are available from the Laser Credit Union at the Old Town Hall in Rotherham.