Buckinghamshire Council steps in after Aylesbury Vale MPs vote down free school meals for vulnerable children

Buckinghamshire Council are stepping up to help out hungry children across the October half term.

By Thomas Bamford
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 10:56 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 11:00 am
Martin Tett, leader of the Buckinghamshire Council
Martin Tett, leader of the Buckinghamshire Council

The council say they have already spent over £180,000 on food for families in need.

They added that they will now be looking at a number of 'long term' programmes to assist the most vulnerable.

Last week, Rob Butler and Greg Smith voted against extending free school meals for hungry children across the October half term.

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You can read about that here.

https://www.bucksherald.co.uk/business/buckinghamshire-mps-rob-butler-and-greg-smith-vote-against-free-school-meals-children-during-school-holidays-3012356The Council are also now implementing programmes aimed towards helping people to manage family finances.

Martin Tett, Leader of the Council, said “We don’t want any child in Buckinghamshire to go hungry this holiday.

"As a council we are committed to ensuring that does not happen.

"We know how fantastic our communities are with supporting each other during times of crisis, there is lots of local support available.

"We also know it isn’t always that easy to know where to turn, so I would encourage anyone with a child who is eligible for free school meals and is worried, to contact us so we can ensure they can get access to the support they need.

"We are here and can offer that practical help, including links to supermarkets if needed too.”

The council have put the following schemes in place:

An emergency targeted response for October half term to support those in hardship.

This will be delivered by the Council through the Contact Centre number – people can also drop into ‘Council Access Plus’ points in Aylesbury and Amersham and High Wycombe Library.

Where appropriate, the Council’s Contact Centre will signpost people to local community solutions and foodbanks.

Where this is not appropriate or possible, the Council will arrange for food boxes or supermarket food vouchers.

Contact Centre will log the details of everyone who receives support so that we can ensure no double funding.

The scheme will be communicated through all normal channels – and we will also ask schools to send details to parents.

There are almost 8,000 children on free school meals in Buckinghamshire (estimated around 4,000 families). At an average cost of £15 per head for the week, this would mean a commitment of up to £120k for this single week of half term. This will be funded by Buckinghamshire Council.

A statement from the Council said:

"This autumn half term we want to ensure that families across Bucks, with children eligible for free school meals, know how to access the wide range of support that is available.

"Buckinghamshire has a strong voluntary and community sector which is active in supporting vulnerable families.

"Our ‘Helping Hand’ team can help direct people to the support that is right for them.

"This may be from the voluntary or community sector or direct from the council. If anyone is worried about food over half term, and not sure what help is available, please contact the council’s ‘Helping Hand’ support line on 01296 395000, and someone will be ‘on hand’ to help you.

"This programme is funded by joint support from the Government’s Hardship Fund provided to local councils over the summer and Buckinghamshire Council."