Free school meals will continue for poorer families in lockdown as schools closed until after half-term

FREE school meals will continue to be dished out to vulnerable kids – even though schools are shut until at least after the February half term.

Ministers are finalising the continuation of the scheme, which usually gives kids their meals through schools.

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The PM told the nation last night: "We will provide extra support to ensure that pupils entitled to free school meals will continue to receive them while schools are closed, and we’ll distribute more devices to support remote education."

It's likely that there will be meal vouchers dished out to parents in the same way there were in the first lockdown.

Or, as schools will still remain open for vulnerable kids and those of key workers, it may be that food parcels will be dished out from the schools themselves.

Government sources said they were still looking at the most efficient way to get food to those who needed it – and more details are expected to come shortly.

Marcus Rashford welcomed the news that free school meals will continue to go to those who need it – despite England's third shutdown.

The child poverty campaigner and Manchester United star said on Twitter: “Well that’s progress. Happy to hear the Prime Minister reference free school meal extension during lockdown.

“Should never be in question. Let’s all stay safe and check in on each other often.”

The PM announced that all schools would have to close until at least February half-term thanks to the rapid spread of coronavirus.

More than 57,000 positive cases were reported yesterday – and even higher totals last month once case numbers were finalised.

Instead, all kids will go back to remote learning.

And GCSEs and A Levels are likely to be scrapped, the PM hinted, saying they can't continue in the same was as planned.

Gavin Williamson will give a statement to MPs tomorrow on the latest schools decisions – and will write to exam board Ofqual to instruct them to come up with alternative plans.

It's likely that teachers will use their predicted grades for kids instead of sitting exams, due to so much work being missed.

Eligibility for free school meals varies slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland because the nations set their own rules.

But you may be able to claim free school meals for your child if you, or your child, get any of the following benefits:

  • 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 guaranteed element of pension credit
  • Child tax credit (provided you’re not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working tax credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for working tax credit
  • Universal Credit – if you applied on or after April 1, 2018 your household income is less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

How do I apply for free school lunches for my kids?

If you qualify for a free school lunch, you must let the local authority know so they can get extra funding from the government.

Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council's website and apply.

Some councils ask you to contact the school directly.

Eligibility for free school meals is restricted to children whose parents or carers claim out of work benefits or income support.

Children of all ages living in households on income-related benefits may be eligible, from Government-maintained nurseries right through to sixth forms.

Eligibility varies slightly between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland because the devolved nations set their own rules.

New claims made from April 2018 in England must come from households earning a maximum income of £7,400 a year after tax, not including any benefits.

Rules are the same in Scotland and Wales, but in Northern Ireland, the household income threshold is £14,000.

But for kids due to sit BTEC exams this week, those are still set to go ahead.

However, many kids may not show up to schools over parents' fears about catching the virus.

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