Free school meals campaign in Hartlepool proves huge success
07/09/2011 - 23:00

A campaign to ensure children in Hartlepool are receiving their free school meals is proving a huge success, reported the local council.

Almost 300 additional children have been signed up for free school meals since the Borough Council launched an awareness-raising drive in July.

The campaign, part of the Council's on-going drive to tackle child poverty, was prompted by concerns that up to 600 children could be missing out.

Councillor Jonathan Brash, the Council's portfolio holder for performance, said: "As a local authority, we have an on-going commitment to ensure that people in most need get the support they are entitled to and free school meals are particularly important in tackling child poverty.

"Free school meals play a fundamental role in supporting the less well off families and also have important implications for the town's schools and colleges, as the Government pays an additional pupil premium of £430 to a school for every free school meal awarded.

"A new means-tested 16-19-year-old bursary scheme has also replaced the abolished Education Maintenance Allowance. Money is paid to young people who go on to either college or training after they leave school, but the amount of money given to colleges and training providers to fund the scheme depends upon the number of young people entitled to and claiming free school meals in Year 11."

The Council has also made simplification of the free school meals claims procedure a top priority.