Throughout the country local authorities have been given a budget to offer free school meal vouchers to households with children throughout the Easter holidays of 2022.
The vouchers are being offered to families across England to be used in supermarkets.
The prices range from £15 - £50 depending on where you live. This will help cover the cost of living while your children are home from school.
So, which local authorities in Birmingham have these vouchers available - and who is eligible for them?
Here’s everything you need to know about the free school meal vouchers and how to apply.
What are the Free School Meal vouchers?
Free school meal vouchers differ depending on the council you are in, however, for the majority of places they are vouchers to be spent at the following stores and supermarkets throughout England:
- John Lewis
- Marks and Spencer
People are advised to contact their local authorities directly to find out more about where they can spend their vouchers.
Who is eligible?
If you are entitled to free school meals you will automatically receive this support. The Solihull Council website states that you are eligible for free school meals if you are one of the following:
- Universal Credit - your household earned annual income must be less than £7,400 after tax and not including any benefits
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guarantee element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
Which council areas in Birmingham are offering the vouchers?
Birmingham City council announced that it would be replacing the £15 per week voucher.
The council announced that the vouchers were ‘unsustainable’ without further funding from the government.
The council said that it would be replacing the vouchers by providing a range of free holiday activities and meals via Bring it On Brum, the holiday programme for 5-16 year olds.
Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham city council, said: “Our holiday clubs are there to support children who are eligible for free school meals, and will address holiday hunger, inactivity, isolation and learning loss.”
“For families who are unable to attend the activity sessions in person, Birmingham city council will provide activity packs and food boxes for those eligible for free school meals.”
Solihull Council however announced that they will continue to offer each household £40 vouchers per child throughout the Easter break. These vouchers can be redeemed in supermarkets.
According to the Sandwell Council, Eligible families will receive a voucher for £30 per child for the two-week school holiday which starts on Monday 11 April. This will help around 18,500 children.
Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of Sandwell Council, added: "We hope that these vouchers which were also issued during school holidays last year will again make things a little easier for Sandwell families to help with the cost of a meal.”
"These vouchers will help families with the additional costs of living in our community especially those who are being hit hardest by the cost of living crisis and are having to cope with spiralling energy prices, soaring food and living costs and fuel prices and in receipt of benefit related free school meals.”
Sandwell Council will also be providing free activities throughout the holidays as part of the government-funded Holiday Activities and Food programme. Parents can register online at the official webpage to be involved in the programme.
When will the payments be made?
BirminghamWorld spoke with Solihull Council who said that the payments have already been issued before the start of the Easter holidays.
According to the Sandwell Website “Schools will contact parents in the coming weeks when details on how to access the vouchers will be available.”
Once the applications have been verified the vouchers will be sent to parents electronically with an alternative being offered to those without phones or internet access.
How to apply for Free School Meal vouchers for the Easter holidays?
According to the Solihull government website: “If you have already registered and are entitled to benefits related to free school meals in Solihull, you will automatically receive your voucher and therefore do not need to contact the council.”According to the Sandwell Council website parents and carers who are eligible will have been contacted through their child’s school and will receive vouchers to go towards the cost of food for the break.