Families entitled to Free School Meals should still apply for them despite the introduction of Universal Primary Free School Meals in Wales
The Welsh Government has given the commitment for a phased introduction of universal primary free school meals (UPFSM) to all primary school pupils by 2024 beginning with:
• Reception pupils – September 2022
• Years 1 and 2 – April 2023
The new UPFSM scheme is different to free school meals (eFSM) and it is important for families to understand the difference between the two schemes.
Don’t Miss Out on Uniform Grants and other benefits
Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) – it is Welsh Government’s aim that every child in primary school in Wales will be eligible for a universal primary free school meal (UPFSM) by 2024, regardless of household income. Here in Flintshire there will be no need to apply for a UPFSM. Receiving a UPFSM does not automatically entitle families to receive support with other school essentials such as school uniform grants (PDG). More information on UPFSM is available here flintshire.gov.uk/UPFSM-E.
eFSM – some families who meet certain criteria, for example those on lower incomes or in receipt of certain benefits, are entitled to receive a free school meal (eFSM).
On a successful application for eFSM families are then eligible for other benefits to help cover the cost of school essentials such as school uniform grants (PDG).
Even though the roll out of UPFSM will begin in September 2022, and eligible year groups will begin to receive free school meals, families who are eligible for eFSM should continue to use the eFSM application process to ensure they don’t lose out on other benefits.
Word from Flintshire
Flintshire’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Welsh Language, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Ian Roberts, said:
“Here in Flintshire we will begin rolling out UPFSM to all reception children in September 2022. Our aim is to then extend provision to children in years 1 and 2 from April 2023.
“There is obviously a lot of work to do behind the scenes to get our infrastructure, equipment, resource and processes in place ready to support the full implementation of this Welsh Government Policy, and our priority to date has been to ensure we can deliver the first phase of implementation in September 2022.
“Whilst I welcome the roll out of UPFSM and the financial support it will offer to families who are suffering as a result of the cost of living crisis, I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important it is for families on lower incomes who are eligible for other benefits to get their eFSM applications in to make sure they don’t lose out.
“Not everyone will be aware, but as well as families, schools also benefit from eFSM. For every child who applies for, and is granted an eFSM, their school can also access much needed funding to help pay for school essentials to benefit learners.”
For more information on eFSM and uniform grants go to flintshire.gov.uk/eFSM-E.
Final Thought on Free School Meals
The Free School Meals scheme has for a long time been a pillar of Government policy to reduce child poverty. As Wales rolls out Universal Free School Meals there is a risk that we lose what has become a crucial measure success in the fight against inequality in our schools. A glance at any recent government or think-tank report will measure children’s attainment broken down by those who are eligible for Free School Meals and those who are not.
If families take heed and continue to apply for this an other benefits where relevant Universal Free School Meals can feed children without damaging the opportunities of the poorest.