Families whose children are eligible for benefit related free school meals will have more choice over where to spend their vouchers this Christmas thanks to a new way the scheme will be administered.
Bath & North East Somerset Council is continuing to provide families with children who receive income-related free school meals with a £20 voucher per child per week, totalling £40 for the upcoming school holidays.
However, the council is trialling a different voucher provider which will allow families to spend the voucher total at more than one supermarket of their choice.
Households will receive ‘Select’ codes with a web link to the new supplier, Hawk Incentives, which will take them to a page where they will be presented with a selection of supermarkets to choose from and a reward total which can be split between different supermarkets. Codes can be added for each qualifying child to increase the reward total.
Once parents have selected their supermarket, they can checkout their vouchers via the shopping basket. After entering their name and email address, vouchers will be emailed to them within 72 hours.
Households who received voucher links at the previous half term period will not need to make a new application, however anyone who did miss out will need to reapply using this web form on the council’s website.
Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, said: “This new system for administering the vouchers will give families more flexibility over where they spend the money. At a time of financial hardship for many people, I hope this will support families further in making ends meet this Christmas.
Councillor Richard Samuel, deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development & Resources, said: “Don’t forget that if you’re on a low income and receive certain benefits, you can also apply for a £250 grant to pay energy bills from our Household Support Fund.”
The Select codes for free school meal vouchers will be valid for three months once issued, but once a supermarket is selected the normal terms and conditions of that store apply, which range from 12 months to two years.
Applications for the Household Support Fund should be made via the council’s website here. Residents who have questions about the new process for accessing Free School Meal vouchers or the Household Support Fund can contact the Benefits team on 01225 477777 (option 4). All applicants will need to provide evidence of their eligibility.