Hundreds more families eligible for free school meals

Thursday 4 July 2019

An extra 230 local families will now get free school meals and £145 (per child) towards school uniforms, after the council raised the earnings cap for these important educational benefits.

People who earn £915 a month, after tax and national insurance have been taken off their wages, can now claim the benefits. The limit used to be £575 or £610 a month, depending on what other income the applicant received.

The move is part of a £211,000 package of measures designed to support families on low incomes.

Councillor Jim Clocherty, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Education & Communities Committee, said, “Raising the earnings cap on free school meals and clothing grants will provide direct, practical help to hundreds more local children. But it is very important that people apply for this extra help.

“Before the end of term, every pupil was given an application form to take home. Children who are due to start primary school in August were also given forms.

“When the new term starts in August every child from P1 to P4 will now get a free school meal thanks to a new council initiative. But parents and carers with children in P1 to P4 need to remember to apply for the cash for school clothes and shoes separately. And people whose child is moving from P4 to P5 need to remember to apply for these benefits as well, because they won’t get free school meals automatically any more.

“Tackling poverty is one of Inverclyde Council’s key goals. Making sure that children are properly fed, clothed and educated is absolutely fundamental to achieving this. In Inverclyde, one child out of every four lives in poverty. In some parts of the area the figure is one child in three.”

Application forms for the educational benefits can be downloaded from the council’s webpage; collected from the child’s school or collected from the Customer Service Centre at the Municipal Buildings in Clyde Square.

Councillor Jim Clocherty said, “Our aim is to make the ‘cost of the school day’ as low as possible for people in Inverclyde. We recognise that some families miss out on these important benefits. We want to make them available automatically, so that people who are eligible don’t have to apply for them. We’re not there yet but we are working hard to achieve this. This is why it is so important for people who are eligible for these benefits to fill in an application form before term starts in August.”

The Department of Work & Pensions currently gives the council’s finance service information so it can make sure poorer families automatically get help with their council tax – Council Tax Reduction.

Many of these families are eligible for free school meals and school clothing grants. The council has asked if it can use the information supplied by the DWP to provide these benefits automatically as well. The DWP has given verbal agreement to this change but final confirmation is needed from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Page last updated: 4 July 2019