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Wiltshire Council ready to work with schools again to ensure pupils on free school meals don't go hungry during the holidays

Published 18 January 2021
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Wiltshire Council is set up and ready to work with schools and early years again to ensure no child in Wiltshire need go hungry during the school holidays.

In December 2020 the council agreed some of its share of the government's COVID Winter Grant Scheme would be used to cover food costs to families who receive free school meals. The money would be available for the school holidays of Christmas, February half term and Easter.

With the February half-term approaching, the council will be handing the money for food costs over once again 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.

Families already on the free school meal list will be contacted separately about the holidays by their school. 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 Better2GetherFunding Early Years Pupil Premium is claimed through the child's setting.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: "At Christmas we decided to use the winter grant funding to provide food over the holidays for our children in need and we said then we'd use it for February half term and Easter holidays. Our schools will use the same system as they did at Christmas. We know free school meals is still making news and there could be more developments but for now we have a scheme which is already in place to ensure no child will need to go hungry in Wiltshire.

"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 will work with our schools so this is covered for the holidays."

Wiltshire Council's £1,107,932.98 share of the government's Government grant to help people stay safe, keep warm, and fed this winter  is also being used to provide additional support to Wiltshire residents in need to support with the cost of food, energy (heating, cooking, lighting), water bills (including sewerage) and other essentials. The council has worked with partner agencies to agree how the money should be allocated.

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.

Published 18 January 2021
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