Wales has become the first country in the UK to guarantee ongoing funding for children to continue to receive free school meals throughout the summer holidays in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams has today (Wednesday, April 22) confirmed each eligible child will receive the equivalent of £19.50 a week.
With the support of the Welsh Local Government Association, the Welsh Government will make £33m available to help local authorities continue to provide free school meals.
Wales is the first country in the UK to guarantee funding and guidance for the provision of free school meals until schools re-open or until the end of August.
When the Minister announced she would close schools on Wednesday, March 18 she quickly confirmed that £7m would be made available to local authorities to provide arrangements for free school meals.
After a month of local authorities providing free school meals to communities across Wales, and following a review into the possibility of adopting a national voucher scheme, the Education Minister said the way forward for Wales was for local authorities to decide what works best for their local communities.
The Education Minister said:
“We have confidence in the way local authorities have responded swiftly to this emergency and we know local approaches are working well.
“After examining whether a national voucher scheme would work for Wales, we have decided not to proceed with that approach.
“I am pleased to confirm we will continue to support local authorities, both financially and through revised guidance, to deliver local solutions while schools remain closed.
“I can confirm we will provide £33m to enable local authorities to continue free school meal provision until schools re-open or up to the end of August.”
Confirmation from the Minister makes Wales the first country in the UK to provide continued assurance of support to families during the summer school holidays.
In the revised guidance issued to local authorities, the Welsh Government outlines three options for providing free school meals that require the least amount of social interaction, they are:
- the provision of vouchers
- the delivery of food items to the families of pupils in receipt of free school meals
- a transfer of funds to the bank accounts of families eligible for free school meals (BACS payments)
Councillor Ian Roberts (Flintshire), WLGA Spokesperson for Education said:
“Local authorities have acted with urgency to ensure arrangements are in place to deliver free school meals to eligible families. We’re grateful to the Welsh Government for their financial package which means local authorities will be able to continue to provide this support through the school summer holidays or until schools re-open.”
To find out how your local council will provide free school meals, please use the postcode search function at https://gov.wales/free-school-meals-coronavirus-guidance-schools
If you are eligible for free school meals and are not yet receiving them, please contact your local authority.