Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Cardiff council will reimburse thousands of parents missing money in free school meal vouchers “over the next few days”.
Parents and carers of children eligible for free school meals, about 11,000 in Cardiff, have been receiving downloadable vouchers while schools are closed.
The vouchers were worth £15 a week in Cardiff, but £19.50 elsewhere in Wales. After the Welsh Government announced this week the vouchers should be worth £19.50, some Cardiff parents have been questioning why they have been receiving less.
Now, Cardiff council has said parents and carers will be given £19.50 a week from now on, and will reimburse them for the missing money over the past couple of weeks since the start of the latest school term.
Schools across Wales didn’t open to most pupils at the start of this month, due to the latest coronavirus lockdown. Over Christmas, Cardiff council gave vouchers worth £20 a week for free school meals, but then dropped this to £15 at the start of the school term.
In England, parents and carers were sent paltry boxes of food to feed their children, and many complained the food provided was not enough.
Responding to the controversy, the Welsh Government said on Facebook: “Here in Wales, we’re proud to have led the way in providing free school meals throughout the pandemic.
“Each eligible child receives the equivalent of £19.50 per week via their local authority — whether this is a voucher, direct payment or a food parcel.”
Except in Cardiff, each eligible child had been receiving £15. The announcement has led Cardiff council to increase the amount given with each voucher, to £19.50 to come in line with the rest of Wales.
The voucher can be spent in seven different supermarkets: Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
A Cardiff council spokesperson said: “Welsh Government has now confirmed that during the current Level 4 lockdown, which has closed schools, local authorities are able to claim £19.50 per week for free school meal vouchers.
“Cardiff council is now backdating these payments to January 4, the start of this term, and they will be sent out to parents in the next few days.”