FOI Request - School Meal Debt
1. The total amount of school meals debt in your council area at the end of the last financial year, 2022-23.
2. How far back this debt extends.
3. The school meals debt recorded for the past five financial years (up to the end of 2022-23), broken down by year and by primary, secondary and special schools.
4. The number of pupils with school meals debt at the end of 2022-23, broken down by primary, secondary and special.
5. The number of pupils in your council area, broken down by by the past five financial years and by primary, secondary and special.
6. If school meals debt has been cancelled, please make clear when, how much was written off and what period the debt covered.
7. Details of any policy or procedure at local authority or school level regarding pupils who have incurred debt on their school lunch or catering account.
8. Details on 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.
9. Details on when, if ever, debt on lunch or catering accounts is written off.
10. Does the school or local authority refer families with lunch or catering debts to money advice or other similar local services?
11. Can secondary pupils with a zero or negative balance on their school meal account access a school meal? If they can, how is this done?
12. Does debt on the school meal system get referred to the council for debt collection? If yes, does the council use external debt agencies or sheriff’s officers to collect school meal debt?
13. Do you use a cashless payment system for school meals in a) Primary and b) Secondary school? If so, which system is used?
14. If people’s Universal Credit income varies from month to month does it have an effect on their free school meal entitlement? If so, what effect?
2. From 28th September 2022
3. Secondary schools pupil cannot go into arrears on the catering system, and if a pupil is in arrears it is cleared by parent/guardian or school within the term.
Year Arrears on Ipay system that has not been passed to invoice Outstanding Invoice
2018/19 -£9,970.45 Nil
2019/20 -£19,268.66 Nil
2020/21 -£7,673.19 £ 703.60
2021/22 -£10,073.36 £13,815.79
2022/23 -£9,677.14 £ 1,963.00
4. Secondary Pupils – None.
Year Number of pupils
5. Please find below school rolls for the past five years, as taken from the annual school census. Please note we have no Special schools.
Year Primary Secondary Total
2022 6,824 5,388 12,212
2021 6,889 5,328 12,217
2020 6,943 5,171 12,114
2019 6,987 4,940 11,927
2018 7,086 4,804 11,890
6. Decision was made on 28th September 2022 that school debt would be cleared from 2019 when Ipay system was introduced until 28th September 2022. The total amount was £27382.45.
7. Primary schools - 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 as it sits within the debt to the Council.
Secondary school – Pupils who have no money on their account would inform education or catering staff and will receive a meal, this is then paid for by the pupil once they have the funds - this is normally cleared within a week.
8. 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 time.
9. Acting on advice from the Council’s External Debt Collection Agency or Legal Services, debt identified as irrecoverable will be written off the Accounts Receivable System. This process is an accounting exercise and the debt will remain due to the Council until legal prescription prevents collection, at which point it becomes legally irrecoverable.
10. Arrear reminder emails or letter gives them links to the webpage about free school meals.
11. Secondary school – Pupils who have no money on their account would inform education or catering staff and will receive a meal, this is then paid for by the pupil once they have the funds - this is normally cleared within a week.
12. Yes Debt Collection Agency.
13. Primary - Ipay Secondary- Ipay impact
14. If peoples income is continually over the qualifying criteria then entitlement to free school meals could be ended, fluctuating earnings would be taken into account when assessing where an average would be taken.