Decision details

The Provision of Food and Activities for Children in School Holidays During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Chair introduced this item and referred to the Government’s recent reversal of its policy on provision of free school meals during school holidays, which had occurred after this report had been written and published.


The Director for Children, Families and Education, Paul Boyce, provided the Committee with an overview of the provision of free school meals (FSM) in school holidays during the Covid-19 emergency pandemic since March. The report also sets out proposals for the funding of FSM between Christmas and the end of the Easter holidays in 2021 and recommended a process for the development of a sustainable approach to the provision of FSM and support to eligible children in the medium and longer term.


With regard to the recent Government announcement he confirmed that there would be three separate funding streams:


·  A Winter grant of £1.224m (from a £170m grant for English local authorities) for food, heating and wider support from Christmas to Easter for poorer families, including vulnerable families with children receiving FSM.

·  A Holiday Activities and Food Programme of £220m, distributed between English local authorities to run from Easter to Christmas 2021.

·  An extension to the ‘Healthy Start’ programme for low income pregnant women and those with children under 4, with an increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021.


Paul Boyce suggested that, as greater clarity with regard to the newly announced Government funding streams was yet to be provided, it would be prudent to agree the recommendations and set aside the £200,000 Tranche 4 of Government Covid-19 funding, as detailed in the report.


The Committee debated the matter at some length and expressed their gratitude to all those community groups, including Feeding Birkenhead, involved in supporting vulnerable residents. Members also acknowledged the support required by residents struggling in all areas of the borough, including more affluent areas and the need to consider support for families where children were not necessarily in receipt of FSM.


On a motion by Councillor Julie McManus, seconded by Councillor Phil Gilchrist, it was -


Resolved – That,


(1)  the proposal to provide funding for Free School Meals (FSM) during school holidays up until the end of 2021 Easter holidays, be agreed.


(2)  the Children, Young People and Education Committee be asked to develop proposals for consideration by the Policy and Resources Committee on a sustainable approach for the provision of FSM and support to eligible children in the medium and long term, including children who are not necessarily in receipt of FSM.

Publication date: 19/11/2020

Date of decision: 11/11/2020

Decided at meeting: 11/11/2020 - Policy and Resources Committee

Accompanying Documents: