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Pay cash in lieu of Free School Meals

April 2nd 2020

The Bevan Foundation is urging the Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams AM, to insist that local authorities pay parents cash to replace Free School Meals.

At the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Bevan Foundation called for local authorities to ensure children entitled to Free School Meals continued to benefit, ideally by making cash payments to parents.  With a plethora of arrangements emerging, we’re urging the Education Secretary to make sure that all local authorities follow the lead of Torfaen and Rhondda Cynon Taff Councils in offering money.

There are six key reasons why cash is better than vouchers or food bags:

  1. Cash enables parents to maintain social distancing – they do not need to collect bags or open their doors to delivery drivers
  2. Cash offers parents choice and flexibility – they can go to a local shop or buy online if they wish
  3. Cash means people can shop local – they do not have to travel to a supermarket that accepts vouchers which might be some distance away
  4. Cash means there is no stigma associated with getting a free meal
  5. 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
  6. Cash payments across Wales give a consistent and easy to understand message.

We had understood that the Education Secretary would announce cash payments at her briefing yesterday (1st April) and strongly urge her to do so as promised next week.

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