CLASS WAR Single mum threatened with social services over unpaid £13 school dinner bill
The furious mum said the letter was like ‘criminalising poverty’, with the notice warning an ‘instant referral’ would be made to Denbighshire’s Social Services Children’s team
A SINGLE mum has spoken of her fury after being threatened with being reported to social services over an unpaid £13 school dinner bill.
The furious parent said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she received the letter that warned it would be a “child protection concern” if she did not pay up.
Speaking to the Daily Post, the mum said: “I was seriously shocked to receive the letter and what angered me most was the tone of it.
“It could’ve been worded very differently without the threat to report me to social services.
“It’s like criminalising poverty.”
The self-employed mum, who did not want to be named, said that while she had previously been late in paying the bill for the meals at Ysgol Twm o’r Nant school in Denbigh, it was always paid.
School meals in Denbighshire cost £2.20 per day.
Once a parent’s outstanding bill reaches £20, the council’s policy is that children will not be given a school meal until the debt is paid in full, although a basic sandwich will be provided.
For a child to qualify for free school dinners, parents or guardians must be in receipt of certain benefits.
The mum added: “Working poverty is a big issue in our area.
“What is also shocking is that if you don’t pay the bill, your child would only be given a basic sandwich and then they get stigmatised.
“The parent’s financial status is not the child’s fault.
“I’m really low-waged and there are lots of parents in the same situation, you only have to look at how many working families are turning to food banks, but to be threatened to be reported to social services when you’re only trying your best is absolutely outrageous.”
A spokesman for the council said: “The welfare of our pupils is paramount and it is imperative that they either receive a school meal or a packed lunch.
“Parents or guardians who are in arrears with their school meals, receive an initial letter outlining the amount of the debt and offers parents a variety of ways to pay including a payment plan, if they are struggling financially.
“They are also given the opportunity to provide their child with a packed lunch until the arrears are met.
“If they fail to pay on this occasion, they receive a second and final letter, reminding them about the outstanding amount.
“Most parents pay upon receipt of the first letter.
“Our aim is to avoid escalation of debt problems within families that may already be struggling.
“The letters have been in our Debt Policy since 2016 and were reviewed with Head teachers and School Business Managers
“We urge any parents who have any concerns to contact us to discuss.”
The letter in full:
“We have written to you on a number of occasions regarding overdue payment for school meals.
“You currently have an outstanding amount of £13.20 for meals taken at Ysgol Twm o’r Nant.
“Please be aware that from September 1 2017, Denbighshire County Council’s catering team will no longer be reminding parents/carers of amounts owing.
“Under the council’s procedure for collecting school meal arrears, once the outstanding amount reaches £20, your child will not be permitted to receive a meal until the debt is paid in full.
“Schools cannot provide lunch for children whose parents/carers owe £20 and above.
“Payment for school meals is a parental responsibility.
“Should you fail to pay for your child’s meals or provide them with a packed lunch, this will be highlighted as a child protection concern.
“An instant referral will be made to Denbighshire’s Social Services Children’s team, who will then carry out an investigation into the circumstances around the lack of provision of food.
“If your school has the facility to pay online via Parent Pay you can log on and see meals taken and balance instantly or for schools who don’t have online payment system, please contact the school admin for a balance.
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More Details : https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7368423/single-mum-threatened-social-services-denbighshire/
More Details : https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/single-mum-who-owes-13-13322979