Everything You Need To Know About Claiming Free School Meals Over Summer
Over a million children in England will be eligible to claim free school meals over summer, after the government made a u-turn on providing the vouchers outside of term time.
The decision came after 22-year-old Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, campaigned for the government to extend the school meal vouchers throughout the summer, penning an emotional letter to MPs this week.
As a result, it was announced yesterday that a £120 million 'Covid summer food fund' will be available to those who need it.
But who is eligible? And how do you go about claiming the vouchers? Here's everything you need to know.
Who qualifies for free school meal vouchers?
Those who may be eligible for the vouchers are children (of all ages, from nursery to sixth form) who are living in households claiming income-related benefits.
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- 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 four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit
If you qualify because of Universal Credit, it's important to note that if you apply on or after 1st April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits).
Children who get paid these benefits directly may also be eligible. You can find more information on who is eligible on the Gov.uk website.
Eligibility varies slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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What will be available over the summer holidays?
The government has now announced that children who qualify in England will be able to get a one-off six week voucher for the summer holidays.
It works out at £90 (so £15 per week, which is more than the £11.50 currently paid to schools per pupil).
The government does not usually provide free school meals over the holidays, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, has opted to extend the scheme into the holidays, benefitting 1.3 million children.
How can I apply for the vouchers?
To check if your child is eligible and apply, visit Gov.uk where you'll be asked to enter your postcode, before being directed to your local council's website.
Once there, you can apply online to claim your vouchers.
What's the situation in other areas of the UK?
- In Wales, the government will provide those eligible for free school meals with food vouchers, meal deliveries or bank transfers during the summer break.
- In Scotland, it's a similar situation, with Nicola Sturgeon pledging £12.6million in funding to continue the scheme.
- In Northern Ireland, an extension to continue the scheme throughout July and August is being considered.
Where can the vouchers be spent?
The vouchers can be used in Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Waitrose, M&S Food, Aldi or McColl's.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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