Many of Orkney’s most vulnerable families are to receive a £200 direct payment to those children receiving free school meals - £100 from the Scottish Government COVID Spring Hardship Payment and a further top up payment of £100 thanks to an Orkney Islands Council grant agreed by councillors.
The cash boost will benefit more than 250 children in Orkney and be paid directly to families before the Easter holidays early in April. Those receiving it will be able to use it for whatever they need.
This payment is per child, not per household, and for those families on a low income – anyone whose P1-3 children receive a free school meal due to the universal provision will not be eligible. Therefore, for a family with three eligible children, the payment would be £600.
This is the second supplementary payment to be agreed by OIC Councillors following a £100 top up to the Scottish Government COVID Winter Hardship Payment of £100 in December.
OIC Leader Councillor James Stockan said: “Our most vulnerable families in Orkney continue to be those who are most likely to be worst hit in these ongoing challenging times.
“That is why we as a Council have decided, for the second time in four months, to make a supplementary payment of £100 on top of the Government grant.
“This additional £31,000 will come from a discretionary grant we hold from the Scottish Government. Our officials are, once again, to be commended for their swift response in ensuring this additional money will be with our most vulnerable families before the Easter break.”
Those to benefit from the full £200 for each child must have been claiming free school meal entitlement as of the Scottish Government cut-off date of 16 February this year. However, if you believe you may be eligible for free school meals there is still time to come forward and any newly eligible claimants will qualify for the Council top up payment of £100 per child.
Councillor Stockan appealed for families who may be eligible for free school meals in Orkney to come forward to check to see if they qualify.
“We are fearful there are families out there who are missing out on free school meals due to a misconception of there being a stigma attached. Please be reassured the system we have in place has already been commended by other parents and carers who have applied as being subtle and ensuring complete privacy.
“While it is too late for new claimants to benefit from the Scottish Government £100 grant, we as a Council will honour the additional £100 for new claimants.
“I would urge people to please check to see if you qualify – more people are entitled to this – this is our chance as a Council to do something additional to help individuals.”
Applications can be made online via MyOrkney at www.orkney.gov.uk/School-Benefit or call 01856873535 for a paper application form.