School meal vouchers will continue for more than 9,500 of West Northamptonshire's most vulnerable children

Council vows to continue picking up tab for as long as low-income families feel pinch of benefits change and soaring bills

By Kevin Nicholls
Thursday, 30th September 2021, 2:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 2:37 pm

Council leaders have vowed to continue picking up the tab for school meal vouchers for vulnerable schoolchildren.

More than 9,500 vulnerable children in West Northamptonshire who are eligible for free school meals have received vouchers outside term time during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The authority plans to continue offering £15 vouchers for each child through October's half-term and both weeks of the Christmas break.

Sign up to our daily Daventry Express Today newsletter

Students eligible for free school meals will continue to get vouchers to help meet the cost of food outside term time

Cllr Fiona Baker is the West Northamptonshire Council’s Cabinet member for children, families and education.

She said: “Circumstances have improved, but we’re not out of the woods yet. With winter approaching, we could yet see another wave of Covid, and low-income families might also be hit by the increase in heating costs.

“I know this support has made a big difference in the past and so I’m pleased to give families one less thing to worry about this winter.”

Schools are currently being asked to provide lists of eligible families from which WNC will generate individual pupil vouchers that will be returned to schools for distribution.

The initial period of voucher distribution will cover the October half-term only.

Councillors in North Northamptonshire have also announced it will continue with the scheme using cash from the government's Covid support grants

Schools with the largest number of eligible pupils will receive the vouchers first and the rest in descending order in time for the start of the school holidays next month.

The announcement comes on the day the government's job protection scheme ends with around 17,000 workers in the county still furloughed and facing uncertainty over their futures.

Low-earners already facing higher bills as a result of rising energy prices are also set be hit by the removal of a £20-a-week Universal Credit 'uplift' from Tuesday.