As the Interim Head of Schools Service I am very aware of the economic and financial pressures that many families in the County are facing. I am writing to you to ask you, as parents/carers of children attending a school in the Authority, to consider if you may be eligible to receive free school meals for your children.
To qualify for free school meals a family’s income will be under £ 16, 190 (copy of criteria attached) and have an eligible child/children attending a school.
As an Authority we have two processes through which parents can apply for free school meals:
- A specific free school meals application form
- Through a multi-grant /benefit application form with Housing Benefit etc. through the Authority’s Income and Awards Team.
On initial application, the Authority checks entitlement to free school meals through a secure link to a Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) internet site. Parents/carers who qualify for free school meals entitlement do not have to re-apply on a termly/annual basis as the Authority will check entitlement through a half-termly check of the D.W.P. database.
Where Parents have an existing active Free School Meals claim, they only need notify the Free School Meals Service of any additional child/ren they wish to add.
With primary school meals costing £2.10 per day and the meal of the day in secondary schools costing £2.15, the entitlement to free school meals will give parents/carers a saving of up to £430 per year per child.
The Authority is aware of the stigma that some parents/pupils attach to being on free school meals, particularly in the secondary sector, and is currently looking at the potential introduction of a cashless system for school meals. This system would allow the Authority to reduce/remove the identification of children entitled to free school meals by their peers and others.
In addition to the benefits to parents/carers and children, the school will also benefit as each child who has been assessed as being entitled to free school meals will attract an additional £919 of funding to the school through the Pupil Deprivation Grant.
Free school meals entitlement is also an element in the formula that is used by the Welsh Government to fund the Authority through the Revenue Support Grant mechanism, and for the current year, this amounted to £3,243 (Primary) and £4,858 (Secondary) in grant per pupil.
You will see from the above that pupils, parents, schools and the Authority will benefit from ensuring that those pupils who are entitled to receive free meals are given that entitlement and receive free meals.
If you think your children may be entitled to free school meals and are currently not receiving them, could I please encourage you to complete the attached application form and return it to the Schools Service at County Hall in Llandrindod.
If you wish to discuss the issue further, please contact your child’s school in the first instance, or, alternatively, you can contact 01597 826437.
lnterm Head of Schools Service