Education and Benefits Team Bring Over £500,000 into County

17 Nov 2017

A project between education staff and the Benefits Team at Northumberland County Council has brought over £500,000 of pupil premium funding into the county.

Education staff were convinced that there were many families eligible for pupil premium funding but not claiming it, so hours were spent scrutinising records to identify eligible families who had not yet claimed the funding for their child.

Introduced in 2011, the pupil premium provides additional funding for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities and to close the gaps between them and their peers. Schools use the funding to provide additional support targeted at helping the children to achieve their full potential. 

In total 440 children in 121 schools were identified as being eligible but not claiming. Staff from the Benefits Team then contacted each person directly to explain the potential entitlement, how the free school meal process works, the advantages of receiving free school meals and how the arrangements ensure confidentiality for the children.

Wayne Daley, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council, said: “This was a creative piece of joint working between the benefits team and education staff and I am delighted to see that the money Northumberland children are entitled to has been secured. By being spent wisely by the schools, the Pupil Premium helps children to achieve their full potential.”

Schools will use that money to address the barriers that often stop Pupil Premium children achieving as well as their peers. Children who are entitled to pupil premium often face challenges such as poor language and communication skills, lack of confidence and issues with attendance and punctuality.

Who is eligible for free school meals?
Families may be eligible for free school meals – and accordingly the pupil premium – if they receive any of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit

For more information, please telephone the Free School Meals Team at Northumberland County Council on 01670 623 592 or visit www.northumbrland.gov.uk to apply online.