FAQs: Your questions answered about winter free school meal vouchers

Families of 7,500 school age children, who are eligible for income-based Free School Meals, will receive a £30 voucher per eligible child this winter

Stockport Council has produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions following its announcement last week that thousands of families across the borough will receive support from the Council for the cost of their food and utility bills this Christmas.

Families of 7,500 school age children, who are eligible for income-based Free School Meals, will receive a £30 voucher per eligible child to help with the costs of food, utilities and other essentials this winter. A second payment will follow in the next few months. We'll let you know when you'll receive this payment so you do not need to contact us.

Families of early year’s children in early education who are in receipt of the 2-year-old funding entitlement or income-based benefits that qualify for the Early Years Pupil Premium payment to their early years setting, will also receive a £30 voucher per eligible child to help with the costs of food, utilities and other essentials this winter.

The vouchers will be sent directly to families via email by early next week. Those families without email access will receive their voucher by post.

Eligible families do not need to apply. The Council is working with Stockport schools and colleges to identify the vulnerable families in need of support and will issue vouchers directly. This is just the start of the Council’s support for vulnerable families on low incomes over the winter period.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child receives universal Free School Meals, will I get a voucher over Christmas?
• Not necessarily, if your child receives universal Free School Meals (FSM), (Reception, year 1 and year 2) but you are also eligible for benefit related FSM and you have completed the benefit related FSM application process, then you should receive a voucher. If you’ve not completed the benefit related FSM application process, you will need to do this before receiving a voucher. This link also provides information on eligibility criteria.
• If you need help getting online, please contact the DigiKnow Helpline on 07537 127095.

If I have a query over the holidays who do I need to contact?
• You can contact the Council’s Coronavirus Welfare Line on 0161 217 6046.
• Please note that the Welfare Line is closed on the following dates:
o Thursday 24th after midday
o Friday 25th – 28th (4 days)
o Thursday 31st Dec (after 3.30pm)
o Friday 1st Jan-Sunday 3rd Jan

My email address isn’t up to date and the school is closed, what do I need to do to get the voucher?
• Please contact the Council’s Coronavirus Welfare Line on 0161 217 6046.
• You will still need to contact your school after the holidays to amend their records.

I’ve not received my email, what should I do?
• If you have not received your email, please check your junk inbox folder. Alternatively, check any other email accounts that you have. The voucher will be sent to the primary email address that the council holds for you. This could be the email address you used during the school admissions process and/or used to apply for benefits related Free School Meals (FSM). If you still cannot find your email, contact the Council’s Coronavirus Welfare Line on 0161 217 6046.

I haven’t got an email, what should I do?
• Where the Council does not hold an e-mail address for a child in receipt of FSM, we have posted supermarket vouchers to the home address held in our systems. If you haven’t received your voucher via the post, please contact the Council’s Coronavirus Welfare Line on 0161 217 6046.

How much is the voucher for?
• Over the Christmas period you will receive a voucher for £30 per eligible child i.e. for each child receiving benefit related Free School Meals (FSM).

What can the voucher be used for?
• The voucher can be used to purchase food, utilities (fuel, water and sewerage) and other winter essentials including hygiene products, warm clothing, blankets.
How can the voucher be redeemed?
• The voucher will be emailed to you from Pay Point. This will be sent to the primary email that the council holds for you. Within the email from Pay Point, there will be a barcode. Either print or present your voucher at one of the Pay Point outlets across the borough. The cashier will then provide the appropriate cash value.

Where can the voucher be redeemed?
• A list of outlets can be found on the PayPoint website. It is recommended that PayPoint vouchers are redeemed at larger stores where possible to ensure funds are available.

When can the voucher be redeemed?
• Your voucher will be live from the moment you receive the email. Please note that the vouchers must be redeemed within 21 days from the date of the email.

What happens if I do not redeem my voucher?
• Failure to redeem the voucher within the 21 day period will result in the voucher becoming invalid.

*Why have I received an Aldi voucher and not a voucher via Pay Point? *
• Aldi vouchers have been sent to all eligible households where the Council does not hold a valid email address.

I am not eligible for Free School Meals, is there any support available for me?
• If you are a Stockport resident, you can apply to Support Funds for support. This could include help with accessing food; sourcing items you might need for your home; help with secondary school uniform; gas and electricity top up for prepaid meters; help paying your Council Tax; help with a shortfall in rent; or help to apply to a charity or trust fund. For more information, visit our Financial Support in a Crisis pages