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Decision details

Food vouchers for Free School Meals children (May 2023 holidays)

Decision Maker: Chief Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


In the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement, it was announced there would be a fourth round of the Household Support Fund to cover the period from April 2023 to March 2024, with a further £1 billion (£842m for England) being released to councils, to support those most in need with the cost of food, energy and water bills, phone, broadband and clothing and in exceptional cases, housing costs.
Due to the late release of government guidance and the impending May holidays, the Council will use a proportion of the £8m grant, to assist 22,600 Free School Meal/Pupil Premium children during this period, by awarding a £15 voucher in respect of each child. The spend accounts for £340k of the allocation for this week only. This commitment is in line with previous support provided to these children for most school holidays since October 2020, by Bristol City Council.
The contract supplier has been chosen using the CSS framework and is a continuation of an existing and well-established good quality provision by them. A full procurement process will be in place for any future spend in this area and is included in the May Cabinet report. This OED is to enable a ‘bridging’ contract to allow for food vouchers to be in place and distributed before 26 May 2023.


To spend up to £340k of the Council’s allocation from the Household Support Fund for April 2023 to March 2024 to provide Free School Meals vouchers to 22,600 children over the May school holidays and use the Crown Commercial Services (CSS) voucher framework to appoint the contract supplier Hawk Incentives.
The Cabinet member for Finance, Governance, Property and Culture, the Chair of Resources Scrutiny commission, the Mayor’s Office, the deputy S151 Officer and the Monitoring Officer have been consulted prior to this decision being taken.

Alternative options considered:

It was hoped that the May Cabinet decision, which includes a corporate procurement process for food vouchers ongoing, would be in place to enable schools to distribute before the 26 May 2023 deadline, but due to further work required and tight timescales to enable this to happen, this was not deemed to be practical.
Other options were considered, including adding these funds in to a wider Hardship Support Fund solution, but due to the timing of the government and impending May school holiday, it is believed that this is the most effective and efficient way to target low income families. It also builds on the same infrastructure and processes that have helped the same families with food poverty over the last 30 months, in school holidays.
A standalone tender exercise was considered but rejected on the basis that the supplier chose via the CSS framework, provides good value and is one that has also been used via a similar competitive tender exercise.

Publication date: 15/03/2023

Date of decision: 23/02/2023