ASCL welcomes the opportunity to contribute to your investigation. The introduction of the National Free School Meal Voucher Scheme was welcomed by members when it was announced in March this year, as the need for providing free meals to eligible families is an essential service of significant national importance.
However, the delay between the announcement and availability (scheme announced 19 March and launched 31 March) meant that some schools had made arrangements with alternative voucher providers in the meantime. The subsequent administrative issues experienced by the Edenred system then led to many schools deciding to stay with their alternative provider.
As schools began to try and use the Edenred system to order vouchers, we became aware of a number of issues related to the design, implementation, and performance of the scheme.
Full response to consultation