By Leah Conway – KLTV Contributor
As we are approaching the festive break, Kirklees Council has announced new plans to provide free school meal vouchers.
What are the Council’s Plans?
Kirklees Council has allocated £460,000 to help children and young people stay fed over the Christmas break. Plans would see free school meal vouchers support over 15,000 children. However, plans are subject to formal agreement by the Kirklees Cabinet.
The Council’s plans also ask Cabinet members to approve free school vouchers for February half-term in 2021. If approved, these provisions would cost a further £230,000.
If approved, it is expected that the Council will allocate funding to each school to spend on vouchers. Vouchers are worth £15 and eligible pupils would receive them weekly.
What are the Kirklees Councillors thoughts?
Council Leader Cllr Shabir Pandor said: “Supporting children and young people is our absolute priority. Covid-19 is having the biggest impact on the poorest families – allocating these funds is another way we are investing in our children’s futures and helping vulnerable people to cope with the pandemic.
“Since the beginning of Covid-19, we have worked closely with schools, settings and other partners to wrap support around our children and families. We have been committed to ensuring children have access to a wide range of help and, in particular, that they don’t experience hunger.
“The holiday periods are often difficult for children and families, both physically and mentally, and we are ensuring nutritious meals can be provided at home. This is essential to children staying healthy and having the best start in life.”
Cllr Carole Pattison, Cabinet member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said: “We will not allow children’s wellbeing to suffer when they aren’t in school. As well as affecting their health, this can also mean they are less ready to learn once the holidays are over and they are less likely to fulfil their potential.
“Helping our residents to stay as well as possible is a central part of the Kirklees response to Covid-19. This funding will make a huge difference, not only in the coming months but by achieving better long-term outcomes for thousands of young people.”
What Happens Next?
The support for school children is part of a wider initiative. The Council is using its Local Welfare Provision Scheme to help some of the most vulnerable people throughout Kirklees. The scheme will support people without food and essential supplies over the coming winter months.
The proposals to funder free school meal vouchers went to the Kirklees Cabinet in November. However, due to a pending announcement from the central government, the decision remains delayed.
Despite the delay, the Kirklees cabinet is looking to the future and plan to meet early in the new year. They will plan how to support disadvantaged children and families throughout 2021.