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Council offers update on when free school holiday meal funds for borough children will be released

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Schools in Gedling borough can expect to receive funding in the coming days to distribute to families who are eligible for Free School Meals

Nottinghamshire County Council today outlined more details of how the £2.3 million it has received from the Government will be allocated.

It comes after a campaign by Manchester United player Marcus Rashford to end child poverty and hunger.

The Government initially said it would not fund school meals over holidays, but eventually U-turned in October.

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It will be up to schools in Notts to decide exactly how to distribute the vouchers. 

As well as school-aged children, students in further education will also be eligible.

The distribution of funding for the scheme was approved today (Monday, November 30) during a virtual meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s committee.

£2.3 million has been made available to the council by the Government to fund the scheme, with half (£1.15 million) set to be spent over the Christmas holiday). 

An emergency decision taken by the council meant £634,680 was spent over the two-week October half term.

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County_Hall_Nottingham
APPROVED: A plan was agreed today at County Hall

A report on the subject said: “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will provide funding to (the council), who will administer the scheme and provide direct assistance to vulnerable households and families with children particularly affected by the pandemic. 

“This will include some families who normally have access to Free School Meals during term time. 

“Approximately £1.15m (50 percent of the available grant) would be spent on the provision of food to those families where children are in receipt of free school meals or free meals in Further Education settings due to the low income of the household across the Christmas and February half-term breaks. 

“In October, the Chief Executive took a decision under his emergency decision making powers to provide FSM for eligible families in the two week October half-term period. 

“The cost to the council to fund FSM for 21,932 eligible children was approximately £634,680 for the two-week holiday. 

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“As in October, the provision at Christmas and February 2021 will be delivered locally by schools providing vouchers for local supermarkets. 

“Schools have successfully demonstrated that they can effectively identify eligible children, communicate sensitively with families and manage a voucher scheme including their purchase and subsequent dissemination. 

“Approximately £0.6m (30 percent of the available grant) would be targeted at vulnerable families with children with an allocated lead professional such as a social worker, family service or children’s centre service key worker or a professional in an allied service such as domestic violence charities. 

“Of that figure £0.43m would be targeted at households struggling with the provision of food, paying winter energy costs and water bills during the period up until March and based on an assessment of need by the relevant professional.  

“Around £0.45m (20 percent of the grant) would be focused on individual households not meeting the above eligibility but who have been identified by professionals as being in urgent need. 

“This could include care leavers, families with children but without a key worker, those at risk of homelessness, those at risk from domestic violence but without children and those with no recourse to public funds.”

The plan was approved unanimously today (Monday, November 30) at a virtual meeting of the county council’s Children and Young People’s Committee.

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