Torbay free school meals double to £30 per child for half-term

Free school meals - a child eating a sandwich

Torbay Council will be using some of its Covid funding to provide a £30 payment for each child - Credit: North Devon Council

Children who receive free school meals in Torbay will get double the Government recommended allowance during February half-term.

Torbay Council will be using some of its Covid funding to provide a £30 payment for each child, compared to the £15 in the area covered by Devon County Council. The money will be administered through schools and nurseries.

Council leader Steve Darling said it was an example of how the council was supporting families during the pandemic.

The council, run by a partnership of Independents and Liberal Democrats, is also working on a series of projects with partners to support the community during the recovery phase when lockdown ends.

That includes a scheme to help schools cope with children who may have behaviour problems, and wider support on mental health issues.

The council is proposing a £300,000 hardship fund to support people who have missed out on financial support schemes during the pandemic.

And it is setting aside a reserve fund of £1.6million in the next financial year to cover ongoing costs of responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

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The council is predicted to underspend by £7.2million in the current financial year due to successfully tackling financial pressures in children’s services. 

The money is being set aside to strengthen reserves, invest in priority services for the community, and fund an expected £5.2million shortfall in the collection of council tax and rates due to the pandemic.

Next year’s budget, including a 1.99 per cent increase in core council tax plus a three per cent rise to go on adult social care, will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday night.

The Conservative group has called for a freeze on the core tax. But the council’s leadership has dismissed the idea, saying the Tories have not explained where £1.5million cuts would come from to make the saving.