With additional funding now available from the Scottish Government, parents are being encouraged to check whether they may be newly eligible for free school meals or a clothing grant.
More families in Shetland are benefitting than ever before, with an increase last year of 15% in pupils eligible for free schools meals. The number eligible for a clothing grant also increased, by 8%.
The Scottish Government has announced funding to allow local authorities to provide free school meal holiday support during all school holidays in 2021/22 for families in receipt of free school meals. This provision is available to all pupils in primary and secondary. The allowance is £2.50 per day, providing payments totalling £92.50 per eligible child, paid fortnightly during the summer holidays. This support will also be available during the October, Christmas and Easter Holidays. Currently, 283 pupils from 165 families are receiving free school meal holiday payments during the summer holidays.
The clothing grant has also been increased – for secondary pupils, that has gone up to £150 per year, for primary pupils it now stands at £120, and Early Learning and Childcare pupils continue to receive £100. Shetland Islands Council remains the only local authority to pay clothing grants to pupils in Early Learning.
Additionally, the Scottish Government has introduced two £100 Family Pandemic Payments, the first to be paid before the summer holidays, and a second payment before the Christmas holidays. These are payable to primary and secondary pupils who are in receipt of free school meals.
Helen Budge is Director of Children’s Services for Shetland Islands Council: “As we all continue to try to cope with the pressures caused by the COVID pandemic, more of our families are potentially under financial pressure than ever before.
“With wider eligibility for support around clothing and free school meals, and an additional pandemic payment now on offer, I’d encourage anyone who may think they could benefit from extra support to get in touch.”
Anyone who would like to apply for support, or talk through the range of benefits on offer, should contact Children’s Services’ Finance Team on 01595 743832 or 01595 743844, or check the website at https://www.shetland.gov.uk/support-pupils/ema-bursaries-financial-support/3