Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes

Department for Education written question – answered on 27th May 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Boycott Baroness Boycott Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the current take up rate of the national voucher scheme; and how many vouchers provided through that scheme have been spent in supermarkets.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.

Our latest guidance for schools is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

During this period, we are asking schools to support children who are eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children and we encourage this approach where it is possible.

Where this is not possible, we have introduced a national voucher scheme to provide headteachers with additional flexibility to decide what is best for families at their schools. More information about the national voucher scheme is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

As of Friday 22 May, Edenred reported that over £101.5 million has been redeemed into supermarket vouchers by families and schools. As of Tuesday 12 May, Edenred reported that 17,000 schools had placed an order. Schools will continue to receive their core funding allocations as normal.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We will continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

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