To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the free school meals voucher scheme will be made available; and whether there will be retrospective funding of vouchers in the event that the scheme is not available immediately after schools close due to the covid-19 outbreak.
Schools can access the national voucher scheme as of Tuesday 31 March. This scheme allows schools to order a single voucher to the value of £15 each week for every child eligible for benefits-related free school meals who is not attending school, set a weekly £15 rolling voucher, or combine funding where a family has more than one child eligible. Schools will not have to pay for these vouchers as the costs for this scheme will be picked up centrally by the Department for Education.
Schools can also continue with a local solution to supporting pupils eligible for free school meals.
We understand that other approaches may mean that schools incur additional expenses. Guidance is available on how we will compensate schools who incur these additional costs, including prior to the introduction of the national voucher scheme, in providing free school meals or vouchers to pupils affected by COVID-19:
Further guidance is available at the link below: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.