Is your child entitled to a free school meal?
Published Thursday 12th January 12 in Council - news and information releases news
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is urging parents who think their children might qualify for free school meals to check their eligibility online.
Since September 2011 parents have been able to use the Council's website to find out if their children are entitled to free school meals.
The online service is discreet, quick and easy to use and enables parents whose children meet the necessary criteria to apply for assistance.
Free school meal benefits are worth £10 to £15 per week per child and provide daily lunchtime hot meals for school-aged children.
Every pupil who takes up their entitlement also earns their school a cash payment of £488 (rising to £600 in 2012/13) to be used for the benefit of they and their fellow pupils.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Executive Councillor for Children and Learning, Councillor Mark Flewitt, said: "Some parents feel awkward when it comes to applying for free school meals.
"The online service enables them to check their child's eligibility for this very important benefit without having to come in to school to make a face-to-face application.
"Making their first application over the internet avoids the need to discuss their financial situation with members of staff at their child's school, something which might be deterring them from applying.
"As well as easing the financial burden on parents the free school meal system also releases cash to schools for every pupil who takes up their entitlement so everyone benefits."
You could be entitled to free school meals if you are on any of the following benefits and have children of school age:
· Income Support
· Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
· an income-related Employment and Support Allowance
· support under Part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
· Child Tax Credit and an annual income of less than £16,190
· the Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit or
· Working Tax Credit run-on - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
The online checking and application process can be accessed at www.southend.gov.uk/fsm
The eligibility check requires just three pieces of information - a National Insurance or National Asylum Seeker number, your date of birth and the first three letters of your surname.