Thousands of children to benefit from voucher scheme

Help with the cost of lunches at weekends and holidays

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Families from across North Lanarkshire are to receive assistance in the form of vouchers to help cover the cost of lunches at weekends and holidays.

Our pioneering Club 365 programme - which provides a hot lunch and activities at weekends and holidays - has not been able to take place this year as normal due to the pandemic.

Over the summer holidays, we arranged alternative ways to support families in the greatest need, including through a successful voucher payment system.

With Covid-19 restrictions continuing to impact Club 365 provision - and based on the success of the voucher scheme - parents of primary pupils who, under revenue and benefits criteria, are eligible for free school meals will now receive a voucher every four weeks.

Payments will be made automatically on a four-weekly basis using the same mobile phone text/paypoint approach. Eligible parents/carers will receive a monthly voucher of approximately £19.44 per child to cover weekend lunch costs. This payment will be higher during holiday periods.

Councillor Frank McNally, Convener of Education and Families, said: "Tackling holiday and weekend hunger is an absolute priority for this administration and we are committed to providing real support to families in a drive to eradicate child poverty.

"One in four children in North Lanarkshire were living in poverty before the pandemic. It is widely accepted that this will have spiked as unemployment soars, working hours are reduced and key measures like the Job Retention Scheme are set to be withdrawn; even more families will be experiencing poverty.

"For the foreseeable future our successful Club 365 hubs will be unable to recommence due to Covid-19 restrictions so, in response, more than £1 million will be provided directly to families across North Lanarkshire in the coming months. I believe this new arrangement will go a long way to directly supporting those in the most need."

The new voucher payment system will begin week commencing 21 September.

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