WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH FSM ELSEWHERE IN THE UK?
You’ll know that DfE has launched its national voucher scheme for schools in England. We thought it was worth considering what’s happening in other parts of the UK.
In Northern Ireland, all eligible families receive payments of £27 per fortnight per child, directly to their bank accounts; while in both Scotland and Wales it is the local authorities who are responsible for their own system for supporting the families of children who receive free school meals during the crisis.
In Scotland, there are reports of great variation across the 32 local authorities, with some providing meals, packed lunches or food packs, but others - including Glasgow - issuing vouchers which can only be redeemed at Farmfoods. The worth of the vouchers also varies, with most valued between between £10 and £12.50 a week. More information is available on the Scottish Government website.
The government in Wales originally intended to launch a ‘national’ scheme similar to the one run by DfE for schools in England. However, following reports of long delays and system crashes with Edenred, the Welsh Government announced they were abandoning that plan, and would instead continue to support local authorities to administer the process. This decision was largely welcomed by local authorities, who are often the best placed to understand specific needs of their communities. Under new guidance published by the Welsh Government each eligible child will receive the equivalent of £19.50 a week, which will come in the form of either: vouchers, the delivery of food items to families, or a direct bank transfer.
The guidance published by the Welsh Government notes that in order to address the needs of the most vulnerable children and families; local authorities may need to “operate a number of schemes in parallel”. In addition, on the 22 April, the Welsh Education Minister announced the Government would “continue free school meal provision until schools re-open or up to the end of August”, making Wales the first nation in the UK to provide that security for the summer holiday period.
At our webinar last week, DfE could not confirm whether FSM provision would be extended to the holidays. We’ll continue to make the case.
The great surge in applications for Universal Credit is making it clear that families are struggling - let’s continue to support them to feed their children well during this emergency.
In other news ...
Our Breakfast Box project launched last week and so far, over 2,000 children across Lambeth and Southwark have received one of our breakfast boxes, filled with two weeks’ worth of nutritious breakfast foods.
Our friends at Sustain have published a new guide for councils, school caterers and partners who want to deliver meals to older and disabled adults during the Covid-19 outbreak.