Thousands of Birmingham school children to receive free school meals over half term

Families will receive supermarket vouchers to purchase the meals with the end of the Universal Credit scheme cited as one reason for the initiative

Free school meals being given to thousands of Birmingham school children over half term

Birmingham council will spend £1.2 million providing more than 80,000 free school meals to children over half-term, it has been announced.

Using money from the Household Support Fund, the council will provide 76,000 supermarket vouchers for school-age children, a further 3,000 for early years children and the equivalent of 3,000 for young people post-16 and attending college.

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Earlier this month the government brought an end to the Universal Credit top-up, placing added strain on thousands of families across the country who had been in receipt of the additional income since March last year.

And, speaking following the announcement of the funding for supermarket vouchers, cabinet member for vulnerable children and families Cllr Sharon Thompson (Lab, North Edgbaston) pointed to the end of the top-up as one of the reasons behind the decision.

Birmingham City Council House, Victoria Square

What is the Household Support Fund?

The government’s Household Support Fund is distributed by local authorities to help families with essentials. The council will continue to use Sodexo Exchange to deliver the vouchers.

The city council is working on plans to use the remainder of its Household Support Fund allocation to support those in need over the coming months.

What did the councillors say about the initiative in their own words?

“There is huge pressure on some families so this news will provide some reassurance,” she said.

“It is noticeable and worrying that the number of vouchers we are providing has increased as the effects of the pandemic continue to hit families really hard, including the end of both the furlough scheme and the universal credit uplift.”

Cllr Jayne Francis (Lab, Harborne) cabinet member for education, skills and culture said: “It’s great news that vouchers are being made available to schools and other settings other educational settings so that those families who most need financial support can access the vouchers this October half term.

“We are determined to get this support to eligible families and to make sure that children can be properly fed.”

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