Question to the Department for Education:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the proportion of children entitled to free school meals that will receive support from the Holiday Activities and Food Programme over the Easter 2021 holiday.
Backed by an investment of £220 million, the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme ran throughout this Easter holiday period and will run during the summer and Christmas holidays in 2021, supporting disadvantaged pupils with enriching activities, providing them with healthy food, helping them to learn new things and improving socialisation.
Building on the success of the pilot programmes that have run since 2018, our programme is targeted primarily at those who are eligible for free school meals and has launched in every local authority across the country this Easter. In line with remaining national restrictions, every local authority is running a HAF programme – some local authorities may be doing this remotely or online, whilst some local authorities have chosen to do a mixture of remote and face-to-face sessions. Attendance is voluntary and some children attended the programme every day it was offered; many others chose to attend part time or for certain weeks.
Last summer, our programme supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities, and this year’s significant expansion of the programme builds on this support.
We will shortly announce our HAF programme support contractor who will help local authorities to scale up plans for the summer, building on the foundations laid by local authorities, sporting organisations, charities, and the voluntary sector this Easter.
The government has extended the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support more families during the Easter holiday period, ensuring all families can continue to access support for food and other essentials should they need it. All local authorities have been informed of their additional allocations, taking the total amount of funding to £229 million for the scheme.