More Falkirk bairns will get free school meals

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Around 700 more Falkirk school pupils will become entitled to free school meals, free breakfasts and free music tuition from next April – saving their parents more than £600 a year.

At the moment, children whose parents get income support and jobseeker’s allowance are entitled to free school meals – but from April next year they will also be given to families getting housing benefit, council tax reduction and pension credit, councillors agreed.

They heard that based on current uptake, the cost to the council would be £306,000 – saving parents up to £480 per child every year.

The same children will also now be able to get a free breakfast at their school’s breakfast club, saving parents an annual £140 for each child every year.

Currently they are charged 75p per breakfast but that charge will be scrapped at a cost of £25,000 per year to the council.

Members also agreed that the pupils whose families are receiving these benefits will be eligible for free music tuition at a cost of around £6000 to the council.

In the future, the council will also extend the provision of 1140 hours of childcare to families with two-year-olds who are receiving similar means-tested benefits.

There was unanimous support for the proposals from all sides of the chamber.

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “While there is a cost to the council, it’s the right thing to do.”