Council extends free school meal scheme through half term holiday

All school children in Manchester who are eligible for a free school meal will continue to be supported through next week’s half term holiday to make sure that no child in the city goes hungry.

In the absence of a national scheme through the week-long autumn break, the city council is stepping in to provide funding for all children from Nursery class through to Year 11 who are eligible for a benefits related free school meal.

Approximately 31% of pupils aged 16 and under in Manchester schools are eligible for free school meals – this is around 28,000 children and young people.

The council scheme will also include children from families who are legally classed as having no recourse to public funds.

Eligible families will receive a payment of £15 per child for the week. This can either be paid directly into a bank account, or can be provided as a voucher that can be exchanged for food in a number of local shops.

Claims should be made through the welfare provision scheme on the Council’s website at this link:

www.manchester.gov.uk/HalfTermFreeschoolmeals

The scheme will continue to be open for two weeks after half term so that families can apply for the funding retrospectively if they need to. Applications can be made up until 6 pm on Friday 13 November.

Families who are eligible for the scheme will have been receiving a means tested free school meal from their school and will be in receipt of one of the following 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 guaranteed 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 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

* Universal Credit – if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Children and Schools, Manchester City Council, said: “Marcus Rashford is right – no child should be going hungry during school holidays.

“In the absence of government support to ensure this, the city council is stepping in to fund the provision of a free lunch for all qualifying children in the city this half term.

“We’re working with our schools and have also put extra money into our welfare support to make sure families who need meals for their children can get them and have the means they need to feed their children and put food on the table.

“We’re determined to make sure that no children go hungry on our watch and will be doing everything we possibly can to continue to support them and their families through the difficult weeks and months ahead.”

The scheme doesn’t include children who get a free school meal through the universal scheme for all children in Reception, Year One and Year Two and who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible on low income grounds for a free meal.