Free School Meals: Voucher Schemes

Department for Education written question – answered at on 21 October 2020.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy for schools to be compensated for the full costs incurred from purchasing free school meal vouchers direct from a retailer other than Edenred; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred between March to July due to the COVID-19 outbreak that could not be met from their budgets.

Schools have been eligible to claim for costs including support for free school meals for eligible children who were not in school, where schools were not using the national voucher scheme.

The first claims window for the fund closed on 21 July. All claims for funding within the published cost categories and up to the maximum limit have already been paid. We are assessing all other claims, which will be paid later in the autumn if approved.

There will be a further opportunity in the autumn for schools to claim for exceptional costs that fell between March to July, in the same approved categories as for the first window. Schools will be able to use this second window to claim for any costs in the approved categories, including for support for free school meals eligible children where not using the national voucher scheme, which they did not claim during the first window. Schools will also be able to claim in the autumn for costs relating to the summer holidays that are not covered by the COVID-19 Summer Food Fund.

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