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Almost 2000 families sign up for free school meals in Cardiff

Credit: Cardiff Council

Since the start of the new school term, whole classes of Reception aged children have been enjoying free school meals as part of the Welsh Government Universal Free School Meal scheme. Over 1900 families have taken up the offer so far, with many more families able to so.

To ensure Reception children do not miss out on their free school meals, families should log onto their ParentPay account to pre order. More information is available here – parentpay.com

The Universal Free School Meal scheme is available to the youngest children in primary schools initially. Further year groups are to be provided with free school meals through a phased approach with the aim of rolling the scheme out to all primary aged children over the next three years. It is hoped that Years 1 and 2 will be catered for from the Summer Term 2023.

Credit: Cardiff Council

Important information about benefit based Free School Meals

In addition to Universal Free School Meals, families who receive benefits and with children of all ages, must continue to register for a free school meal.

They may be also be entitled to other grants which can help to buyschool uniform and other school essentials. Registering for available support may also mean a child’s school can access additional funding which can be spent on supporting learning.

Qualifying benefits include:

  • Income Support 
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related 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 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 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit 

In terms of Universal Credit – applications made on or after 1 April 2018, your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any other benefits received).

The Welsh Government has announced that benefits-based free school meals will continue to be provided to children during the school holidays, up until the end of next year’s February half term.In Cardiff, the provision will be delivered via a supermarket voucher, emailed to families before the start of the school break.

Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, Cllr Sarah Merry said: “In response to the current rising cost-of-living, Cardiff Council has been committed to delivering free school meals to all those eligible, as efficiently as possible. Catering capacity has been increased across of all primary schools in the city and our Advice and Benefits teams have been on hand to offer help and support, ensuringthat the financial squeeze does not get in the way of education.

“The Universal Free School Meals scheme is a welcome addition which if taken up fully, could benefit thousands of families across the city.

“Additionally, itis essential that those parents who need it most, receive the help that they are entitled to.I urge anyone who thinks they might be eligible for free school meals and other help, to get in touch so that they can access the right support throughout the school year.”

Since September, eligible learners in Cardiff have been able to access additional financial support from the Welsh Government School Essentials scheme (Pupil Development Grant Access) which helps with the cost of uniform, sports equipment, stationery, and devices. This is in addition to Free School Meals.

If you are a family with children who are not currently receiving Free School Meals and your circumstances have changed this year, Cardiff Council might have support available for you. To check if you are eligible for Free School Meals (eFSM) and School Essentials (PDG Access) which includes support for uniform, sports equipment and devices, visit Free School Meals (cardiff.gov.uk)

You can also call the advice line on 029 2087 1071 or pop into one of Cardiff Council’s Hubs.

If your child is currently in receipt of Free School Meals, you may also be entitled to additional help through School Essentials (PDG Access).