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Eligible children to receive £25 each over Christmas to prevent food poverty

ELIGIBLE children are set to receive £25 each over Christmas to help alleviate food poverty in Flintshire.

Councillors at today’s cabinet meeting (Tuesday, November 21) approved the payment per eligible pupil to address the period covering the Christmas holidays and will be taken from the hardship fund in an estimated amount of £129,825.

Cabinet also agreed to set up the member working group and that the group report back its findings before the 2024/25 budget is concluded with the aim of considering and recommending sustainable options for future school holidays.

A report explained: “During the pandemic Welsh Government committed to provide additional funding to support free school meals during the holiday and half term period. The scheme was intended to address ‘holiday hunger’ and help families struggling during the cost-of-living crisis and the mechanism for delivering this initiative was either a direct payment to families of eligible children, vouchers or the provision of a lunch.

“At the end of June Welsh Government confirmed that it was ending its support for free school meal provision for children during holidays and half terms.”

Following this, a council meeting on September 26, 2023, saw a notice of motion relating to Free School Meals adopted.

The key points were:

  • Cabinet will give a commitment to work to find resources during the Christmas holidays for families on free school meals and will bring a report to Cabinet in November with proposals for how this can be achieved
  • Cabinet will set up a working group to report back to Cabinet. The working group will be chaired by a back-bench member of the council but will contain Councillor Paul Johnson and Councillor Mared Eastwood with representatives from across the Chamber.

The subsequent report to Cabinet for today’s meeting said: “In relation to solutions to address the Christmas school period it is proposed that a direct payment is made of £25.00 per child at an estimated cost, based on an estimated 5,193 eligible pupils covering the 10 day period. Funding will be provided from the amount remaining within the Councils hardship fund.”

Cllr Mared Eastwood for Argoed and New Brighton (Lib Dem) said she supported the report  moved by Cllr Paul Johnson for Holywell West (Labour).

Both recommendations on approving the £25 per pupil payment, and the member working group were agreed at the meeting.