A DEAL worth up to £200,000 has been struck between an East Lancashire food bank operator and officials behind the county council’s new crisis loans scheme.

Community Solutions North West, which operates food bank initiatives in Burnley, Accrington and Nelson, has been asked to provide parcels for a fledgling Care and Urgent Needs Support Scheme (CUNSS). The former crisis loans system, which provided support for those in desperate need of assistance, has been replaced by CUNSS for 2014-15.

And deputy county council leader Coun David Borrow has approved proposals which will see Community Solutions administer the food aid element of the programme countywide.

Community Solutions had already been working with the authority on an interim basis since January in relation to providing food parcels under the scheme in East Lancashire.

County treasurer Gill Kilpatrick, in an executive report, said: “The current arrangements with food banks is that the food bank is reimbursed for the cost of the food and the cost of delivery, a flat fee of £26 per parcel delivered.

“The intention is to base the level of grant awarded on this amount.”

The funding for the overall CUNSS scheme for this financial year totals £2.94million – but slightly less than 20 per cent is estimated to be required for urgent needs awards. County councillors have also been told that there no specific funding for the provisions, in local government finance settlements for 2015-16, so the money will have to be found from elsewhere in the authority’s budget.

This week the Trussell Trust, which provides food banks in Blackburn and Clitheroe, is also due to release figures which are expected to show a rise in demand for their services.