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Coronavirus: Free school meal vouchers 'should not be spent on cigarettes or booze'

By Elgan Hearn | Welshpool | Education | Published:

Vouchers given to parents in place of free schools meals during the coronavirus pandemic should not be used to buy cigarettes or alcohol, say councillors,.

Powys County Council’s portfolio holder for education, Councillor Phyl Davies said that “advice” has been issued as he answered a 'Question at Anytime' put to him by Labour group leader Councillor Mathew Dorrance.

Councillor Dorrance had asked the question after being told by concerned parents that the voucher scheme was open to abuse.

He said: “Will the cabinet member explain why the scheme allows this and furthermore commit to take action that stops the vouchers being used for these purchases?”

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Councillor Davies replied: “The voucher email that is sent to parents does advise that the vouchers are to be used to purchase food only.

“Some of the supermarkets have restricted items lists that prohibit purchases of tobacco and alcohol, however not all.

“We will advise the voucher provider to request all supermarkets have these restrictions in place when using these vouchers.”

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But Councillor Davies confirmed that the payment are made by electronic transfer to the parents' bank account, although it says on the receipt that it is for free school meals.

“We can only advise that this allowance is used to purchase food,” said Councillor Davies.

After receiving the answer, Councillor Dorrance added: “I know that the overwhelming majority of parents will do the right thing, but it is worrying that there are loopholes.

“I welcome the commitment to put in place actions which will lead to restrictions on the purchase of cigarettes and alcohol when using these vouchers.”

Elgan Hearn

By Elgan Hearn
@ElganPowysLDR

Local Democracy Reporter covering Powys.

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