FOI Request - School Meals Debt

Request 101002944597

I would like to make a Freedom of Information request regarding school lunch/meals debt. In particular, I would like to know:

1. Is there a local authority level policy on pupils who have incurred debt on their lunch/meals or catering account?
2. Details of any policy or procedure at either the school or local authority level regarding pupils who have incurred debt on their lunch or catering account.
3. What, if any, restrictions are put in place regarding a school pupil’s access to a meal if they have a debt in their lunch/catering account.
4. The total amount of school lunch debt in the local authority area.
5. The number of pupils with school lunch debt
6. The school lunch debt recorded for the past five years, broken down by year.
7. How far back in time does the local authority's school lunch debt extend?
8. When, if ever, debt on lunch or catering accounts is written off.
9. Does the school or local authority refer families with lunch or catering debts to money advice or other similar local services?

Response 11-01-22

1. Yes
2. Accounts in arrears will receive an email/letter to say account is in arrears, then at the end of the month all accounts that are in arrears by £23 and above will be invoiced. Once invoiced this is taken off the Ipay account and sits within the debt to the council.
3. No restrictions as we cannot refuse a lunch to a pupil, however in a secondary school they will only receive food at lunchtime not break.
4. Outstanding debt as at 22/12/21 is £19,133.15.
5. This alters daily, so an overall figure is not held and falls under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - information not held.
2016/17              £12,634.60
2017/18               £ 6,112.90
2018/19               £ 2,557.60
2019/20               £ 9,703.20
2020/21               £10,790.97

7. There has always been some debt relating to school meals but the policy for collecting this has been formalised since the introduction of the Ipay system.
8. Debt is written off on advice from the Councils external debt collectors
9. On reminder email/letter there is information on where to go to see if you are entitled to free school meals

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