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Wiltshire families in need will have a helping hand this Christmas

Published 3 December 2020
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Wiltshire Council is working closely with schools and early years settings to ensure families with pupils on free school meals will be given a helping hand this Christmas.

Wiltshire Council has received  funding through the government's Covid Winter Grant Scheme to provide a range of support including towards food costs to families who receive free school meals during the holidays. The council is now handing the money for food costs over the holidays  to schools and early years settings such as pre-schools, nurseries and childminders so they can distribute it in the best way for their families, either as a bank transfer, vouchers or food parcels.

Schools and the council will be checking lists and families already on the free school meal list will be contacted separately. However, the council is also urging families who find themselves in difficult circumstances to check if they are also eligible for free school meals and the holiday food funding.

For families with children in early years settings there will be funding for families with children claiming Better2Gether Funding (free childcare for two year olds) and Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). The criteria is the same as for Free School Meals.

Families can find out details of how to apply for free school meals support on the Wiltshire Council website including those families on:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income-based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • support under part six of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit - providing you are NOT entitled to Working Tax Credit and your family's annual income (as assessed by HMRC) is not more than £16,190 (as at 6 April 2012)
  • Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment you may receive for a further four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods) 
  • Better2Gether Funding (two year olds only) Universal Credit - if you and your partner are on a low income from work (this usually means a combined income of less than £15,400 a year after tax)

Or if  the two year old child :

  • Has a statutory statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Has left local authority care through a Special Guardianship Order, adoption or a Residence Order
  • Is currently a Looked After Child, for example in foster care
  • Is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

People should apply directly to Wiltshire Council if they are eligible but currently do not have free school meals by using the form on the council website.

For early years and for Better2Gether Funding, Early Years Pupil Premium is claimed through the child's setting.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: "No child should go hungry just because it's the holidays. We are working closely with our schools and early years settings to ensure those families who would normally have free school meals will have food during the holidays as well.

"Schools and settings will be working directly with the families to provide that funding. For those families who may have fallen on difficult times, we want you to let us know if you believe you are eligible, and we can then work with the schools to ensure this is covered for the holidays."

Wiltshire Council's share of the government's Covid Winter Grant Scheme will also provide additional support towards utilities costs for families in need. More details on how this will be distributed and other help available will be shared shortly.

For those who feel they need additional support with food and utilities costs and don't have a network of support around them, the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub is also available to offer advice on 0300 003 4576 or email wellbeinghub@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Published 3 December 2020