Free School Meals Information 20th May

Please see below the latest update from the Head of Commercial Services in Knowsley Council with regards to Free School Meals:

As you know, since schools closed to most pupils on 20 March we have been providing free school meals to thousands of school children across the borough. Our current system involves issuing an e-voucher to parents / carers in advance for the following 2 week period. The next issue of vouchers is scheduled to take place on Monday 25 May.

As you will also know, we have recently amended our offer (we no longer provide vouchers for pupils previously eligible for free school meals through the Universal Offer) to fall in line with Government policy. Reluctantly, we were forced to take this position as the ongoing cost to us, which was the Government had confirmed was non-recoverable, was approximately £56,000 per week.

Since our last allocation of vouchers, the Government has also confirmed that its scheme will only pay for the cost of term-time only provision. That means that any Council or School providing free school meals through the half term holiday (commencing on 25 May) will not be reimbursed. Therefore, unfortunately we cannot afford to provide vouchers during the holiday period, in line with Government Policy, which varies in length from 1 -2 weeks across the borough.

Furthermore, with schools looking at how they may be able to open to a wider number of pupils from 1 June (which for some schools may fall within what would have been their half term holiday) we will need to develop a more bespoke approach to ensure those in greatest need receive the necessary help whilst we do not spend money we simply will not be able to recover.

We will be working closely with our schools over the coming weeks to help them plan for a phased safe opening and will consider the provision of free school meals and the numbers we need to continue to cater for through our e-voucher system compared with the numbers returning to school.

This information is available from Knowlsey News today.