Motion calls on Flintshire Council Cabinet to reconsider decision to halt free school meals during holidays
A motion calling on Flintshire Council Cabinet members to reconsider a decision to halt free school meals during school holidays will be discussed during a monthly meeting today.
Gwernaffield Councillor David Coggins Cogan has presented a Notice of Motion to the council’s Cabinet, slamming its “political choice” not to fund free school meals during the summer break.
The free school meals scheme, which provided support to many families during periods of school holidays, was introduced by the Welsh Government during the Covid-19 pandemic as a means to combat ‘holiday hunger’.
However, it was stopped abruptly by ministers in Cardiff Bay following the May half term in a cost-saving exercise.
After the Welsh government’s decision, Flintshire Council confirmed it would not be finding funds within its reserves to cover the weekly free school meal payments during the summer school holidays.
Three Welsh councils – Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, and Powys –did however rally to find the necessary funding to continue the support over the summer.
Cllr Coggins Cogan’s motion highlights the urgent need to address the cessation of the Free School Meals provision during the holidays.
He also accuses the council of “deliberately” choosing not to inform councillors about the discontinuation of holiday Free School Meals.
Cllr Coggins Cogan said an Informal Cabinet discussed the holiday provision of Free School Meals on 27th July 2023. “Despite the critical nature of food poverty for many families across Flintshire, the Cabinet did not inform Members of its decision.”
“This lack of communication seriously undermined Members’ abilities to proactively warn families and provide them with information about the (very limited) alternative options.”
Cllr Coggins Cogan’s motion states: “The ongoing Cost of Living crisis forces more and more families throughout Flintshire into food poverty.”
“In June, the Welsh Government announced it was ending the holiday provision of Free School Meals, removing a safety net from those who needed it the most: vulnerable children trapped in poverty through no fault of their own.”
“Several councils across Wales urgently approved funding to continue the Free School Meals during the summer break.”
“Those cabinets decided alleviating food poverty for children was a priority.” “Flintshire’s Cabinet decided differently and refused funding altogether.”
“This was a political choice.”
The motion goes on to state: “Torfaen Council, unable to afford the full cost, provided one-off payments to families eligible for Free School Meals.”
“The Leader of Flintshire Council dismissed this option out of hand.”
“The full burden of the halted Free School Meals policy fell on those least able to bear it: children living in poverty.”
“This policy decision not to fund holiday Free School Meals was not communicated to Members.”
“This hampered Members’ efforts in proactively informing their residents of this new pressure on family finances.”
“Deliberately choosing not to inform Members about the discontinuation of holiday Free School Meals is unforgivable.”
Cllr Coggins Cogan has called on the council to note “with disappointment the Cabinet’s decision not to fund Free School Meals during the holidays and not to provide any part-funding to eligible children.”
The motion also: “Notes and objects to the Cabinet’s total lack of communication in telling Members that Informal Cabinet decided against funding holiday provision of Free School Meals.”
It calls upon the Cabinet to reconsider its decision and to reinstate holiday provision of Free School Meals for as long as the Cost of Living crisis continues.
The motion will go before councillors during a meeting at County Hall in Mold today, Tuesday, September 26. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com