Families eligible for Free School Meals will be provided with supermarket vouchers for the half term holiday next week (Monday 30 May – Friday 3 June).
The City Council has consistently made £15-per-week vouchers available to all children who receive Free School Meals (FSM) over holiday periods. Once again the vouchers will be issued to parents through schools.
Nottingham City Council has secured the funding through the Government’s Household Support Grant Scheme. This grant can be used to support vulnerable households until September 2022.
However, the Government’s grant requirements are changing, with a greater proportion of the grant now required to be spent supporting pensioner households. The council is working with partners to understand how best to meet the new grant requirements and ensure an appropriate balance of funding for families, pensioners and other vulnerable households.
Support for tackling holiday hunger will definitely be available until 2024 through free Holiday Activity Clubs. All pupils entitled to free school meals can attend the clubs to get a free lunch alongside a programme of fun activities. The Activity Clubs will run four times a year over each Christmas, Easter, October and Summer school holiday until Christmas 2024.
Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Schools at Nottingham City Council, said: “The cost of living crisis is making life even harder for people in our city and so it is great news that pupils in need of help will be able to benefit from supermarket vouchers again this half-term.
“This funding is obviously very welcome. Nottingham has around 17,800 children eligible for Free School Meals. It is right and proper that Government provides the funding to ensure these children are free from hunger over the holidays.
“However, we will be seeking further clarity from Government about the future of the Household Support Grant Scheme which funds the supermarket vouchers. There is a debate about the best way to support vulnerable people in the city. There is now a Government expectation to spend a greater proportion of the grant money on support for pensioner and other vulnerable households, especially in relation to rising fuel costs. This is because some residents are facing stark choices between paying for food and fuel. Particularly vulnerable households which need to ensure they have electricity to power essential disability aids or dialysis machines.
“We are looking at how we can balance the new grant requirements alongside supporting our Free School Meals pupils in the longer term. We’re pleased that the free Holiday Activity Clubs are guaranteed to help tackle holiday hunger for the next two years at least.
“We continue to make the case that fuel vouchers, supermarket vouchers and Holiday Clubs are all sticking plasters for the underlying problem of poverty. Access to jobs, employment and training is the fundamental solution to lifting vulnerable households out of poverty. We need Government support for economic recovery and national solutions to the cost-of-living-crisis to help Nottingham people in these tough times.”