Councillors this week agreed to continue the weekly direct cash payments of £17.50 per child, which are currently made for those eligible to receive free school meals.
The payments were introduced in April and have resulted in an uptake in those accessing free school meals and positive feedback from families.
And from April 2021, the Scottish Government will phase in payments of £10 a week for each child under the new Scottish Child Payment Benefit, which will be delivered through Social Security Scotland. The Scottish Government intends that this payment will help to cover the costs of food during school holiday periods and will be allocated on the same criteria for free school meals.
Council leader Elaine Murray said: “Providing free school meals is a key way to reduce pressure on families and ensure that every child has a nutritious meal each day. Widened eligibility for free school meals provides additional support to families that are experiencing a reduced income during the pandemic. We considered the option of food vouchers but access to supermarkets in rural areas is limited and food vouchers cause stigma for families. The direct payment option provides dignity and choice for all families that need this support, ensuring that parents can provide for their children.”
Councillors agreed to move £374,000 of unallocated poverty development funding to deliver the direct cash payments during the summer 2020 holiday period; and to agree that £60,000 left in the Covid-19 hardship fund goes towards providing holiday foot at Christmas and next February half term.