Posted: Fri 21st Jul 2023

Youngsters in Blaenau Gwent to receive free school meals over summer holidays despite Welsh Government funding cut

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jul 21st, 2023

YOUNGSTERS in Blaenau Gwent will continue to receive free school meals over the summer holidays – despite the Welsh Government scrapping funding for the scheme.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on Thursday, July 20, councillors unanimously supported a proposal to use £300,000 from the council’s general reserves to fund the scheme.
At the end of June, the Welsh Government told councils across Wales that it would be stopping the support the payment of free school meal holiday payments.
Funding for free school meals during holidays by the Welsh Government started in March 2020 as part of the Covid-19 pandemic response.
But now the government has said it doesn’t have money to support the scheme anymore.
The figure of £300,000 is based on the calculation that £19.50 is needed per child every week over the six week period.
In Blaenau Gwent 2,626 children claimed the direct payment during the May 2023 half-term, when the Welsh Government scheme was last run.
The agreement of councillors was needed “due to the late notification” of the decision to stop the funding from the Welsh Government and to give families “advance warning” that the scheme would not be happening in future.
The report said: “Vulnerable families have indicated that the funding of £19.50 per child, per week has been invaluable in supporting them to purchase food items during school holidays and in the current cost of living crisis.”
Cabinet member for education, Labour’s Cllr Sue Edmunds, told the meeting that if the council decided to fund payments during the holidays themselves by building it into future budgets, the cost would be £700,000.
Cllr Lee Parsons (Independent) welcomed the plan.
“This directive has come from the Welsh Government and hopefully they will have a change of heart by December, and they will reinstate the funding,” he said.
Deputy leader of the Independent group, Cllr Wayne Hodgins said: “We are on the ground here and see the struggles and cost of living pressures that families face.”
He added that the Welsh Government had heaped pressure onto local authorities “depleted resources” by stopping the funding.
Council leader Labour’s Cllr Steve Thomas said: “We have been reeling from the cost of living, energy costs inflation and everything over the last year as are the Welsh Government.”
He explained that strong arguments had been put to the Welsh Government to continue the funding but “they found they couldn’t fund it.”
Cllr Thomas said: “There was some brinkmanship as I would rather them (Government) fund this than us.
“I knew that everybody in Blaenau Gwent wanted to feed those children and as the cabinet member has already declared we’ll have to consider this when we consider our budgets in late winter.”
Councillor unanimously approved the decision. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



Spotted something? Got a story? Email News@News.Wales



More from Blaenau Gwent Council

Further Delays in Setting Up Planning Applications Website in Blaenau Gwent Confirmed

Blaenau Gwent Council

Moves to Turn Blaenau Gwent Council into a More Business Minded Organisation Welcome by Senior Councillors

Blaenau Gwent Council

Extra Conditions Imposed on Planning Permission for Tredegar Cemetery Extension

Blaenau Gwent Council

Welsh Government Planning Inspectors Overturn Blaenau Gwent Council’s Decision on Ebbw Vale Garage Extension

Blaenau Gwent Council

Disappointment as Welsh Government approves windfarm plans in Blaenau Gwent

Blaenau Gwent Council

Council Approves Controversial Home Bargains Store Development in Ebbw Vale

Blaenau Gwent Council

Latest from News.Wales

Public Consultation Launched for ‘No-Gas’ Housing Development Near Maesteg

Bridgend Council

Opponents of Proposed “Super-Estate” in Wrexham Call for Public Meeting

Wrexham Council

Disused Newport leisure centre deemed safe by council officials

Newport Council

Plans Revealed for Fourth Phase of Rhondda Fach Active Travel Route

Rhondda Council

Fear of Diluted Local Voice in Vale of Glamorgan Community Council Changes

Vale of Glamorgan Council

Smallest School in Rhondda Cynon Taf to Close Despite Strong Opposition

Rhondda Council