Council set to pay for free school meal vouchers over half term

Liverpool Council is set to use its own money to fund free school meals for thousands of kids in the city over the course of a week because a government scheme doesn't cover the cost.

The government has been operating a voucher system for the families of children eligible for free school meals while schools are closed.

However, mayoral lead for fairness and equality Jane Corbett said Edenred, the company operating the system for the government, told councils earlier this month the half term period, which starts on May 25, would not be covered.

Councillor Corbett said the government's position on the voucher system would be highly detrimental to the welfare of children in Liverpool.

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She said: "The government has decided to continue to pay the furlough scheme but won't continue a vital pillar of support for children over the half term week.

"We are protecting adults in this country so why aren't we giving children the same level of protection?

"Families who struggle to put food on the table will not stop struggling because it's half term.

"We are in the middle of a crisis.

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"The health and wellbeing of our children is paramount and not continuing to fund the vouchers over the next week would put that at risk."

Councillor Corbett said just under 20,000 children in Liverpool are currently on the voucher system and continuing it for the half term week will cost the city £170,000.

Her comments come as Liverpool finds itself leading a revolt against the government's school reopening timetable.

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The city council announced on Friday that it would not reopen schools on June 1, the first local authority in the country to publicly defy the government.

It has since been joined by Hartlepool and Gateshead councils, with education unions also fiercely opposed to aspects of the government's plans.

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