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Now’s the time to pay families cash in lieu of Free School Meals

April 20th 2020

Following the news that the Welsh Government has abandoned plans to establish a national voucher scheme the Bevan Foundation is renewing its calls for all local authorities to pay families cash in lieu of Free School Meals


The Bevan Foundation has called on local authorities in recent weeks to ensure children entitled to Free School Meals continue to benefit, ideally by providing parents and carers with cash payments.  Over the past fortnight there was an expectation that the Welsh Government would launch a national voucher scheme to assist families. Following issues with the design of such a scheme, there are reports that this proposal has been abandoned.

The Bevan Foundation welcomes this news as we believe that cash provides better support to families than vouchers. There are six key reasons why we think this is the case:

  • Cash enables parents to maintain social distancing – they do not need to collect bags or open their doors to delivery drivers
  • Cash offers parents choice and flexibility – they can go to a local shop or buy online if they wish
  • Cash means people can shop local – they do not have to travel to a supermarket that accepts vouchers which might be some distance away
  • Cash means there is no stigma associated with getting a free meal
  • Cash allows families to manage their food needs – they can chose what to eat rather than being given a sandwich or frozen meal they may not like
  • Cash payments across Wales give a consistent and easy to understand message.

Following the news of the abandonment of the national voucher scheme we are calling on all authorities in Wales to follow the lead of a growing number who will be providing families with cash to see them through these challenging times.


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