COVID Winter Grant Scheme: Free school meal supermarket vouchers
04 Dec 2020
Ealing has been allocated funding through the government’s Covid Winter Grant scheme (WGS) including funding for vulnerable families with children, which may be used to provide support to families in receipt of free school meals.
The council has been looking at the best way to distribute this funding to those in need and thanks schools for responding to the request regarding the supermarket voucher schemes schools have in place. A large number of schools do not have voucher schemes set up, while some schools are concerned about the additional workload administering vouchers would entail.
Voucher distribution scheme
In light of this feedback, the Council has contracted an external voucher scheme provider, Blackhawk Network, to administer supermarket vouchers for eligible families at no charge to the council. Key information about the scheme is as follows:
- A £30 voucher in December to cover the 2-week Christmas period
- A further £15 voucher in February to cover half term plus an additional £30 per household to help with cost of food so families have got more money to spend on utilities
- Blackhawk Network will email or text vouchers to eligible families and deal with any queries or problems families may have in redeeming vouchers
- Where families don’t have an email or mobile phone number, the council will purchase voucher codes and mail these to families directly
- Voucher codes can be redeemed at a supermarket of the family’s choice. The product lines are unable to be restricted.
Action for schools
We need schools to return up to date details for each child entitled to benefits related free school meals (including those covered by the Universal Credit Transitional arrangements) by Monday 7 December. This will include:
- Pupil’s forename and surname
- Date of birth
- Parent’s name
- Full postal address
- Email address if known
- Mobile phone number if known.
See Collection of parent/carer contact information for winter free school meal voucher scheme for full details of how to return this information.
This information is required as the council’s database holds this information but it only records the information at the point of the last application for a benefits-related free school meals. The Schools data team will be in touch with schools further about these arrangements. Data sharing agreements are in place with Blackhawk.
London boroughs have agreed that the vouchers will be issued by the borough in which the school is located.
Some of the WGS funding will also separately be targeted at:
- Families with children under the age of 5
- Vulnerable households without children.
The council will also allocate £50,000 to the local foodbank to support other vulnerable residents who might be experiencing hardship this winter.
If you have any queries, please contact Laurence Field on the details below.