The value of vouchers provided to families during school holidays will be restored to £15 per week per pupil, following a 33 per cent cut imposed before Easter.
The decision was taken by the South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Cost of Living, Equalities and Public Health, Cllr Alison Evans.
The move will cost an additional £292,000, bringing the total allocated to this support to £1 million, with funding coming from the Government’s Household Support Fund (HSF), which has allocated £2.82 million to the council for this year.
The funding is also being used to support households struggling with the rising costs of energy, for example by providing advice on reducing costs. There is also a focus on helping carers and care leavers. This summer, vouchers will also continue to be provided to fund meals for Year 11 school leavers who have previously received free school meals.
Cllr Evans said: “For many families in South Gloucestershire there is truly a cost of living crisis. Many of us can take putting food on the table for our families for granted, but for those who rely on benefits-related free school meals during term time, the additional cost of providing healthy food during the holidays can overstretch a household budget.
“We are committed to doing all we can within the resources we have available to help those families. Some of that support is available in help and advice to reduce costs, but some of it needs to be in financial form, to take real pressure off families. We believe that helping those families in the most need must be our priority, which is why we have reversed the cut that was imposed earlier this year.
Families with children aged 5-16 on benefits-related free school meals can also book free places at South Gloucestershire holiday activities and food clubs (also referred to as HAF) in the summer and main school holidays, funded by the Department for Education. Visit www.southglos.gov.uk/HAF.
Eligible parents can apply for a school uniform reimbursement grant. This provides help towards the cost of essential clothing for school use, such as PE kits, shoes and coats purchased between 1 June and 15 September 2023. It does not cover stationery, bags, lunch boxes, or other non-clothing items.
You can apply if you live in South Gloucestershire, are struggling to pay bills or meet your monthly outgoings and have no other means of support. To apply, you will need to visit your nearest One Stop Shop in Kingswood, Patchway or Yate or call 01454 868009. You will be asked to fill in a financial statement of your income and expenditure for the household and provide receipts showing the purchase of school uniform and proof of the bank statement showing the transactions. Help with essential school clothing costs all year round is also available for eligible households.
Free and fun places in South Gloucestershire for families to visit during the holidays include the council-owned Grimsbury Community Farm in Kingswood. The farm has lots of animals to meet including sheep, goats, rabbits and pigs. It also has a picnic area, café and playground. Parking is free and animal feed can be purchased for £1.
Another free day out is the Willsbridge Mill nature reserve, which is home to many types of wildlife, including badgers and Roe deer. The Mill has a wildlife garden and a fairy wood to explore, as well as a café.
For further information, advice and financial support to help with the cost of living visit www.southglos.gov.uk/costofliving