We are introducing a new Brighton & Hove scheme to make an 'equivalent support to free school meals' available for children from low income families who are educated other than at school (EOTAS).
The scheme will offer free supermarket vouchers for children of low income families who are unable to attend and receive education in school or in another informal setting.
Across the UK, low income families can determine a school pupil's qualification for free school meals through an eligibility checker.
However, there is currently no national process or funding in place to check a pupil's eligibility if they're unable to attend school.
The Brighton & Hove scheme has been made possible by reallocating money from preventative family help services, with increased Public Health funding being made available for family help services to cover the gap.
We estimate the new scheme will benefit around 30 families in the city. We are working to identify those families and will be in contact directly to inform them of their eligibility.
We will be backdating the free school meal vouchers to April 2023, the start of this financial year.
Councillor Helliwell, chair of the Children, Families & Schools Committee, said: "I'm delighted that we will be able to provide school meal vouchers to low income families across Brighton & Hove for children who are unable to attend school.
"This issue was raised to us by an EOTAS parent Pippa Hodge, and we agreed the lack of any national process or support felt unfair.
"There is no funding, so we've worked very hard to identify a way of offering support locally. Any funding in our current budget situation is extremely challenging, so I'm very pleased we were able to prioritise this much needed support.
"We will be backdating the support to the beginning of the financial year, which will be crucial in supporting the families affected and are most likely impacted by the cost-of-living crisis.
"The policy will also be adapted to ensure it is a straightforward process for all eligible families.
"We need to ensure that no child in Brighton & Hove goes hungry and they have access to healthy, nutritional meals. This is a critical step in supporting those who need it the most."
EOTAS Parent Carer Pippa Hodge said: "I'm really pleased that Brighton & Hove City Council listened with consideration when I put my case to them, that my own son, and some other children and young people with additional needs and/or disabilities from low-income families, are missing out on an important meal benefit that is intended to support children and young people to thrive during their learning day.
"It's essential to look to address equality issues and try to reduce attainment gaps. This is a great example of looking at an issue using the lens of the Accessible City Strategy.
"Today's announcement will be some rare 'good news' during an ongoing cost of living crisis that's hitting low income families really hard. Families will especially appreciate the backdated start date.
"I'm also a Parent Carers' Council (PaCC) Representative, and PaCC is keen to help co-produce the policy. I hope our city's policy will also encourage other local authorities to work with their Parent Carer Forum to develop their own schemes. Thank you to council officers and councillors for your support."