Support for families in need this half term

Read our frequently asked questions (FAQ's) about support available this October half term.

My child receives universal Free School Meals. Will I get a voucher over the half term holiday?

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 not receive a voucher but you can still apply for means tested free school meals going forward. This link also provides information on eligibility criteria.

I believe I am eligible for benefit related free school meals but have not made a claim. Can I still receive a voucher?

Unfortunately vouchers can only be issued where there was an active claim for benefit related free school meals on or before 12 October 2021.

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 your email has gone to your spam or junk folder, you may need to move it to your inbox to open the voucher attachment.

The email you receive from Community Support will have a subject heading of ‘External: Post Office Payout® Household Support Grant’. Try using a number of search words including ‘Payout’ or ‘Household’

Please complete our enquiry form if you still cannot find your email.

I’ve not received a voucher for all of my children. What should I do?

Please complete our enquiry form if you've not received a voucher for all your children

I have not got an email, what should I do?

Where the council does not hold an email address for a child in receipt of FSM, we have posted supermarket vouchers to the home address held in our systems. If you have not received your voucher via the post, by 27 October please complete our enquiry form.

How much is the voucher for?

Families with eligible children will receive vouchers to the value of £15 per child to cover October half term.

How many vouchers will I receive?

For e-vouchers, you will receive one voucher per family. Therefore if you have more than one child, you will receive one voucher with the combined total value for all of your children. For example, if you have 2 eligible children, your voucher will have a value of £30.

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, and blankets.

How can the voucher be redeemed?

The email from the council will include an attachment that contains a barcode. Take this bar code to any Post Office branch and show it to the cashier who will issue you the cash value. Where possible, please open the voucher attachment before presenting to the cashier. If your email has gone to your spam or junk folder, you may need to move it to your inbox to open the voucher attachment.

Where can the voucher be redeemed?

Visit the Post Office website for a list of outlets.

When can the voucher be redeemed?

Your voucher will be valid from the time you receive the email for 1 month.

My voucher has expired. Can it be re-issued?

Any vouchers not redeemed within 1 month of the date on the email will expire and can not be re-issued after they expire.

I’ve received a voucher in the past, why haven’t I received one this October half term?

October 2021 half term vouchers are only being issued to families in receipt of benefits related free school meals and those in early years with equivalent eligibility.

The council are working up plans to ensure that the Household Support Grant supports eligible households. Further information will be publicised on the council website and social media in due course.

I am struggling to redeem my vouchers, what can I do?

You should complete our enquiry form to if you cannot redeem the voucher.

My voucher has expired. What can I do?

Vouchers are valid for 1 month. Once a voucher has expired we are unable to re-issue a voucher.

Why have I received an Aldi voucher and not a voucher via Post Office Payout?

Aldi vouchers have been sent to all eligible households where the Council does not hold a valid email address. This includes eligible children at private maintained nurseries.

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.

Alternatively, contact your school to find out what support they are able to provide to families on a discretionary basis.

Is there any other support for families over the school holidays?

The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme is funded by the Department for Education. It funds holiday activities which include food for children during the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays.

The HAF programme is not funded to provide holiday clubs over the half term holidays but other activities and support may be available to families. You can visit the Childcare Directory to find out what is available in your area. Please note that these are not HAF funded programmes so we cannot guarantee availability.

Families who are eligible for Universal Credit may be able to claim back up to 85% of their childcare costs. You can find information about help with childcare costs on the GOV.UK website.

Why does the council use Post Office PayOut?

Stockport Council uses the Post Office PayOut service to facilitate the distribution of cash vouchers. The PayOut scheme enables the council to create and dispatch vouchers electronically and there are 11,500 branches across the UK where customers can present their voucher and receive the appropriate cash amount. The PayOut scheme offers greater convenience than alternatives such as physical supermarket vouchers or eGift cards. The council are committed to supporting vulnerable families and removing barriers to accessing support

I am having difficulty applying online, what should I do?

If you need help getting online, or setting up an email address, please contact the DigiKnow Helpline on 07537 127095.

I’m having trouble opening my voucher, what should I do?

If you’re struggling to open your half term support vouchers, there’s a few things you could try.

If your voucher initially went to your spam inbox, please make sure you move it to your inbox before trying to open. If that doesn’t work, try opening on a different device. Always make sure you have a strong internet connection, and that your device is set to enable downloads (this isn’t always the case as some providers block downloads to avoid higher usage data).

You could also make sure you have a programme or app that can read PDF files on your device (iPhones have this on already). Try saving the file before opening it: download the file then click on it to open the download.

If you’ve tried these things and the voucher still isn’t opening, please contact our support team.

I've made an enquiry, when will I get a response?

Please allow 7 working days to receive a response to your enquiry. If your voucher needs to be re-issued, please allow 3 working days after we have responded to your enquiry for the voucher to be re-issued.

Where else can I get support from?

Local Pantry scheme

The Local Pantry scheme by Stockport Homes helps people access affordable food from 5 locations across the borough. Members pay a small weekly fee of £3.50, and in return they can collect a pre-packaged food bag of 10 items that includes a mixture of non-perishable items alongside fresh fruit and vegetables, chilled and frozen items. Family memberships are also available for families of 3 or more. This costs £6.50 per week and give the option of at least 20 items.

Over October half term, the Pantry are able to offer a bonus food items in addition to the usual 20 item limit to existing and new Pantry members who are signed up with a family membership. To take advantage of the offer, sign up for a family membership before Friday 22 October.

Visit the Local Pantry website to sign up and find more information.

Advice and Support

If you require additional support and advice please visit our money advice pages.

Healthy Start Vouchers

If you have a child under the age of 4 or are pregnant, you may also be eligible for further support through the NHS Healthy Start Scheme.

You can also ask a midwife or health visitor for help or phone the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823.

Food banks

Stockport has a number of food bank organisations. To request a referral, contact Stockport Citizens Advice on 0808 278 7803.