Money Wellness
Image of two school age children. Free school holiday food vouchers
category iconbenefits
calendar icon23 May 2024

Parents to get cash to help with May half-term costs

Thousands of low-income families will receive £75 worth of supermarket vouchers to help with the cost of feeding their children over half term.

The vouchers will be given to families whose children receive free school meals. And can be used in several supermarkets including Aldi, Asda, Farmfoods, Iceland, McColls, M&S Food, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

They are issued by the Household Support Fund. What you get will depend on how your local council has chosen to spend its allocation of the fund. It may also depend on your personal circumstances so it’s worth visiting your council’s website to see what their policy is.

The vouchers will be automatically sent to eligible families either by email or through their child’s school. If you think you could be eligible or have yet to receive the vouchers, check with your local council.

Who is entitled to free school meals?

Your child is eligible for free school meals if you receive one of the following benefits:

  • Income support
  • Income-related jobseekers 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 – with some exceptions
  • Working tax credit run-on
  • Universal credit – (for households with an income less than £7,400

Your child might still be eligible even if you do not receive any of these benefits. Speak to your child’s school or local council if you think you should receive free school meals.

All children in reception, year one and year two automatically receive free school meals.

What is the holiday activities and food programme (HAF)?

Launched in 2018, HAF provides activities and healthy food to children and young people.

Places are free for children receiving free school meals. However, councils can also provide free places to other children at their own discretion or you can pay for your child to attend.

Families should contact their local council to find out more information on what holiday clubs are available to them locally.

What is the household support fund?

The household support fund provides help with essential living costs including:

  • Energy bills
  • Food
  • Essential items

It is distributed by local councils so what you get will depend on how they have chosen to spend their allocation of the fund. Most offer either cash or vouchers for between £200 to £500.

The support is aimed at anyone who is vulnerable or can’t afford to pay for essentials. You don’t need to be claiming benefits to get help from the HSF.

The fund was due to end earlier this year but the government announced it would be extended until 30 September 2024 in the spring budget.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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