News

Christmas food vouchers for vulnerable families cancelled after ‘council cock-up’

Civic centre mistakenly told schools to issue £75 vouchers when the council could only afford to give out £55 per family, reports James Cracknell

Enfield Civic Centre
Enfield Civic Centre

Parents across Enfield whose children qualify for free school meals have had their Christmas food vouchers cancelled after Enfield Council made a “monumental mistake”.

One headteacher told the Dispatch they were “furious” over the “council cock-up” which resulted in many schools issuing vouchers for an incorrect value of £75, with school finance teams then having to tell parents two days later that they were being cancelled and replaced with a lower value voucher of £55.

In an email sent to all council-run schools on 11th December, seen by the Dispatch, the schools were told that due to an “error” the council had been “led to believe we had a surplus budget from unredeemed vouchers from the summer break” but “it would appear some double counting took place, and we do not have those funds”.

The email then tells the schools that “all vouchers ordered to date have been cancelled if not redeemed” but that if parents had already spent the money “we will honour these”.


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A headteacher of an Enfield school, who did not wish to be identified, told the Dispatch: “It is totally shambolic. It is a lot of work to administer these vouchers, and then to be asked for them back and to issue a lesser amount instead – for our most vulnerable families – it is just immoral.

“I’m furious.”

A governor of a local school also got in touch with the Dispatch about the issue and said: “This is not only a shocking example of mismanagement, but also an incredibly mean-spirited action during the festive season and a cost-of-living crisis affecting the most vulnerable families in the borough.”

A council spokesperson said: “Children who are eligible for free school meals will receive a food voucher to the value of £55 for the festive period. The vouchers are funded by the government’s Household Support Fund scheme.

“At the beginning of December, schools were advised by a council officer to issue a £75 voucher. The error was swiftly addressed and the council has committed to funding the difference to schools who issued £75 vouchers.”


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