The Greater Manchester schools where children will get food vouchers to deal with holiday hunger

The vouchers are £15 a week per child - rising to £20 at Christmas.
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Council bosses are to use nearly £2 million of government cash to pay for food vouchers during school holidays.

Families in Oldham who are eligible for free school meals will now get extra financial support for feeding their children in the the October, Christmas, February and Easter holidays.

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The vouchers, funded by the latest round of the Household Support Fund would be £15 a week, per child, increasing to a total payment of £20 a week per child at Christmas.

Households were due to receive their first set of vouchers this week as schools in the borough broke up for half-term on Friday. The cost of providing the vouchers totals £1.95m.

Deputy council leader Abdul Jabbar said: “It’s good news that the government has given us £2.419m for the third round of the household support grant, which is very much welcome.

“This covers the period from October 2022 to 31 March 23, we’re already into October so we need to approve the options in here so we can get the payments out to people who need it.

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“The different thing this time is that there are no restrictions, which is welcomed. But clearly given the circumstances and the cost of living which is having a real financial impact on many households, this grant could have been more.”

A number of alternative options about how to use the £2.419m funding were also considered.

One would have seen £30 going to families who qualify for free school meals for the purchase of school uniforms.

Another option would have seen the school voucher payment over Christmas reduced to £15, but allocated £500k to fund a payment of £22.50 towards fuel costs for all residents currently receiving council  tax reduction benefits.

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The final option would have seen returning the funding back to the Department for Work and Pensions, which officers say could be ‘quickly discounted’.

While the second option to include financing school uniforms have been a proposal initially considered by the cost of living working group, the report to cabinet states it would add ‘another layer of administration’ to the provision of vouchers.

The cabinet has also agreed to use £385k from the household support fund to go towards the council’s cost of living response.

This will go towards providing fuel vouchers, emergency boiler repairs, warm clothing and bedding, and essential items for the elderly, including food.

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Council leader Amanda Chadderton said: “Obviously we would have liked more money but this ties in with our ‘we can help’ campaign.

“We know families and a lot of our residents are going to struggle over the next six months and this money, certainly over the half term will make quite a tangible difference to a lot of residents across Oldham.”

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