Parents urged to inquire about free school dinners

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As summer draws to its end, and thoughts turning to the new school year, Derbyshire County Council is urging parents to check if they are eligible for free school meals.

In these difficult financial times the council says it wants to make sure families are getting all the help they are entitled to.

They also say that there is no need to worry about other children knowing whether a child gets free school meals, because only the school and catering staff will know.

Families could save £400 a year for each child and children could benefit from a good hot meal at lunchtime.

The school will benefit too - they will get the pupil premium of £900 a year from the government for each child on free school meals.

The council insists it has been made easier for parents to apply for free school meals - a form is now available in the Free School Meals section of their website.

Coun Jim Coyle, deputy cabinet member for children and young people, said: “According to the Child Poverty Action Group, the cost of bringing up a child has risen by four per cent over the last year, while average earnings rose by just 1.5 per cent in the same period.

“The cost of living has risen sharply, and families need all the help they can get.

“That’s why we’re urging them to get the free school meals they are entitled to − if they qualify.”

Parents and carers are able to claim free school meals if they are receiving various benefits.

That includes income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), an income-related employment and support allowance, the guarantee element of State Pension Credit and child tax credit if guardians have an annual income of less that £16,190.

Parents can’t claim free school meals if they claim working tax credit.