Wales

Coronavirus: Glitch leaves families waiting for food cash

Shopping trolley Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Families entitled to free school meals have been given weekly payments instead during the pandemic

Parents of almost 4,000 children eligible for free school meals must wait until next week for lockdown food cash because of a glitch.

Flintshire Council said a "technical issue" meant the weekly payments of £19.50 per child did not go into people's bank accounts earlier.

It said the money in lieu of free school meals should be there on Monday.

Josie Towers, who runs a Facebook group for Flintshire mothers, said some families could struggle at the weekend.

A single parent from Hawarden, she works part-time as a child care assistant at a local playgroup but has been on furlough since the pandemic started.

Image copyright Josie Towers
Image caption Josie Towers is one of the parents waiting for their weekly food payment

Ms Towers said she hadn't received the payments for daughter Minnie, aged 10, and son Jake, aged 11.

"A few mums are worried about affording the weekly food shop and feeding their families as they rely on the payments," she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

A council spokeswoman said: "There has been a technical issue with the payment run for free school meal payments this week.

"This has meant that no payments have been received this week. This problem has been quickly identified and we will re-run the payments today.

"But due to the banks not processing payments over the weekend, this will be in bank accounts on Monday."

In April, Wales' Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced that while schools remained closed during the coronavirus crisis parents would receive a weekly payment for all children eligible for free school meals, having dropped plans for a voucher system in Wales.

A voucher system in England initially due to cover term-time only will now continue throughout the summer holidays after the UK government changed its mind following a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford.

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