Schools are closing for the Easter holidays and that means more than a million children could miss out – but many households could instead be given supermarket vouchers to bridge them
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Parents may be able to apply for vouchers to feed their children over the Easter holidays – but you’ll need to apply soon.
Families can apply for supermarket vouchers that match what your child may have received at school.
Parents can apply for support worth between £15 and £30 – but this depends on where you live.
For example, families in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, can receive vouchers worth £30 over Easter.
These can be spent in stores such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
However, schools in Camden Council have capped their weekly shopping vouchers at £15.
Norfolk County Council has scrapped vouchers for this Easter holiday.
To know exactly how much you can get, you need to contact your local authority directly.
How does the free school meal voucher work?
Free school meal vouchers are usually issued via email or SMS, allowing parents to scan codes at the supermarket checkout.
Footballer Marcus Rashford campaigned to keep funding intact after the Government planned to scrap funding for free school meals in the summer of 2020.
The government then left it up to local councils to decide whether to support free school meal vouchers after spending £500million through the Budget Support Fund. That funding got a boost in the spring statement, meaning it will continue to be an option for parents despite rising inflation.
Is my child entitled to free school meals?
Entitlement to free school meals varies slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as each nation sets its own rules.
However, children from households claiming the following support are typically eligible between the ages of 4 and 16:
- social care
- Income-related unemployment benefit
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Assistance under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of the pension balance
- Child tax credit (provided you are not also entitled to a work tax credit and your annual income does not exceed £16,190)
- Ongoing Labor Tax Credit – Paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for a Labor Tax Credit
- Universal Credit – if you applied on or after 1 April 2018 your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and excluding benefits you receive)
In England, all pupils in the first, first and second grades can receive free school meals during the school year in state schools, regardless of income.
In Scotland, children in primary school, grades one, two and three are entitled to free school meals, regardless of family income.
Where can I redeem the free school meal voucher?
You can redeem the vouchers for free school meals in the following supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Aldi.
It’s worth checking conditions with your local authority as some may also accept local shops.
Can I apply online?
Families can apply for support through the child’s school or their community.
Start entering your postcode on the Gov.uk website to check your local government’s guidelines.
If you already receive housing benefit or council tax subsidy, you can use the same form to apply for free school meals.
More financial support for parents
In addition, parents may be entitled to the following support during or immediately after the birth:
You can get free NHS dental treatment if you are pregnant when you start your treatment. To get free NHS dental treatment you must have a MATB1 certificate issued by your midwife or GP and a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate (MatEx).
You are also entitled to free NHS dental treatment for 12 months after your baby is born. To prove your entitlement, you need a valid maternity exemption certificate, a birth certificate (you can get this from your midwife) and your baby’s birth certificate.
Eligible workers can also take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first 26 weeks are referred to as “regular maternity leave” and the last 26 weeks as “additional maternity leave”. The first 6 weeks are paid at 90% of your pre-tax Average Weekly Earnings (AWE), while the remaining 33 weeks are £156.56 or 90% of your AWE (whichever is lower). These are the rules for those who take parental leave together instead.
If your child is under 18 and you don’t live with another adult, you can claim a 25% reduction on your council tax.
All parents can apply for child benefit. This is a government subsidy of £21.15 per week for your first child and £14 per week for additional children.
The “Healthy Start” program supports parents with meal vouchers. You are eligible if you are 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four and are receiving welfare or another benefit. Payment vouchers start at £4.25 per week.
If you’re on a low income, you may be able to apply for income support, unemployment benefit (JSA), or housing benefit — which can help with rent. Here’s a guide to benefits.
If you have a three or four-year-old child, you can also enroll in the government’s 30-hour free child care program.
The Care to Learn program can help parents who are still in college with childcare costs. It costs £160 per child per week if you live outside of London, or £175 per child per week if you live in London. All payments go directly to your childcare provider.
In addition, there are discounts on water bills, free prescriptions, free school trips (and uniform relief), and discounts on energy bills to take advantage of.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/families-can-claim-free-school-26641345 Families can apply for free school meal vouchers of up to £30 over the Easter holidays