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Families should not have to choose between heating and eating says council leader

As two national schemes offering financial assistance during COVID-19 come to an end families are being urged not to miss out on free school meals.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Lucy Nethsingha is urging struggling families to claim the meals they may now be entitled to

She said: “The ending of the government’s furlough scheme last week, coupled with the end of the top-up to universal credit this week, is likely to be causing some families across Cambridgeshire real anxiety.

Cambridgeshire families are being urged to claim their free school meals. Stock image.
Cambridgeshire families are being urged to claim their free school meals. Stock image.

“We are particularly concerned that people who have never before had to claim free school meals do so if they are eligible, as it is really important for children’s education that they are not hungry, and that families under pressure aren’t forced to choose between eating or heating as the winter approaches.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increase in the number of children receiving free school meals in Cambridgeshire, but they are currently being claimed by only one in six pupils in the county (1,649 pupils).

Families can make a claim through their school.

The County Council’s community hub – which has provided help and support in a range of ways during the pandemic working with a wide range of statutory and voluntary partners - also continues to operate.

Anyone unsure about where to go or what support they're entitled to they can contact the hub to access support, information or advice on 0345 045 5219 or at COVID grant scheme - Cambridgeshire County Council

Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents or carers are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)

Income Support

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

The guarantee element of Pension Credit

Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)

Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for

Working Tax Credit

Details about Free School Meals can be found here: Free school meals - Cambridgeshire County Council

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