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£50 payment to Torfaen families on free school meals to help over summer holidays

HARD-UP families in Torfaen are in line for a ‘cost-of-living’ payment from their council to soften the blow of free school meals being axed over the summer holidays.

The Welsh Government had funded the cost of providing free dinners to the most needy families throughout school holidays since the Covid pandemic in 2020 through to this May’s half term.

The Labour government has said that support had relied on additional funding during the pandemic and it could no longer afford to meet the cost of feeding children from Wales’ poorest families who qualify for free school meals over the upcoming summer break and future school holidays.

£50 per child payment

As a result Labour-controlled Torfaen council has announced it intends making a payment of £50 per child to every family who qualify for free school meals, which are those entitled to certain benefits or with an income of less than £7,400 a year above the Universal Credit threshold.

Council leader Anthony Hunt said: “We recognise there is a need to support the most vulnerable families through the cost-of-living crises and I’d like to announce we are in the process of securing approval for a cost-of-living payment of £50 per child for families who qualify for free school meals.

“This will help almost 4,300 young people in Torfaen through a difficult time.”

The one-off payments would, the Panteg councillor said, be in addition to the Food and Fun scheme run by the Torfaen Play Service for which 400 children a week have signed up to attend at 13 venues across the borough over the long summer holidays.

The councillor said he wanted to thank Torfaen Play for its “inspiring work” with young people.

He also said anyone facing financial hardship should contact the council: “I’d like to encourage anyone facing financial difficulties to contact us as we can help and advise alongside Torfaen CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and through our financial inclusion team. If you are having financial difficulties please do get in touch.”

Since the Welsh Government announced it was axing free meals over the holidays Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Powys councils said they have found cash from their own budgets to fund vouchers to cover the summer break.

Following his announcement at Torfaen council’s July 18 meeting Cllr Hunt tweeted the £50 payments would be made “direct to families” suggesting they will receive cash, which is the method of support preferred by anti-poverty campaigners.

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£50 payment to Torfaen families on free school meals to help over summer holidays

the civic centre in pontypool
The Civic Centre in Pontypool. Picture: LDRS