West Northamptonshire Council confirms schools WERE told free school meal vouchers were being scrapped but now they’re told the scheme will continue

The council is in the process of contacting schools about a ‘change in arrangement’

By Logan MacLeoad
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 4:44 pm

West Northamptonshire Council has confirmed that schools WERE told that free school meal vouchers were being scrapped and they are now contacting schools to explain why the decision has been changed.

Multiple parents got in touch with Chronicle & Echo to say their children's schools had sent out letters saying that WNC would not be issuing vouchers over the half-term, which is from Monday, May 30 to Friday, June 3.

This newspaper had seen emails from a number of schools, which confirmed these reports.

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Free school meal vouchers will be issued during May half-term.

The school's emails to parents were identical, saying: "We have been informed that WNC has made the decision to not fund school holiday food vouchers for the May half-term period and therefore we will not be issuing any voucher links for our free school meal children as in previous holidays."

This newspaper contacted the council on Monday (May 9) for a response and an explanation.

However, after receiving no response from the council, this newspaper printed the story to say the council had “reportedly scrapped the scheme helping the most vulnerable children in society”.

The story was met with outrage from Chron readers.

A number of Conservative councillors also took to social media to state the story was inaccurate and some posted images of Donald Trump, declaring the Chron's original article to be “fake news”.

Later this morning (May 11), WNC had issued a statement to say it would be offering free school meal vouchers during the May half-term, which was at odds with what schools had apparently been told.

However, following a further approach from the Chronicle & Echo for clarification, the council confirmed that schools had been told that the vouchers would not be issued. The schools would now be contacted again, stating that the vouchers would, in fact, be issued, the spokesman said.

In a statement, a West Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: "We are always reviewing the support we can provide to vulnerable residents and, having recently completed the review of all the outstanding claims being processed for 2021/22 we identified that we still have funding available to provide free school meal vouchers during the May half-term holiday.

"We are in the process of informing schools about this change in arrangements and expect the vouchers to be issued this month ahead of the half-term holidays."

A North Northamptonshire Council spokesman added: "The latest communications [from the free school meals service based in the North of the county] were sent out on Friday and the picture at the time was that FSM for May half-term were only being offered in the North."

The spokesman added that schools have been updated today.