Wales

School meal arrears in Pembrokeshire top £185,000

School meals Image copyright Reuters
Image caption No primary school pupil is refused a meal but parents may be asked to make packed lunches

More than £185,000 is owed by parents for school meals across Pembrokeshire, according to a council report.

The schools scrutiny committee is being told some families owe up to £2,800, although no primary school pupil is refused a meal.

However, officers suggest parents more than 20 days in arrears should make packed lunches until the debt is paid.

Councillors will also consider increasing the cost of school meals by 35p over the next three years.

The figures are revealed in a report to the county council's schools and learning scrutiny committee on Thursday, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Pembrokeshire did not contribute a figure to a BBC Wales survey of school meal arrears last October, in which Gwynedd topped the list with debts of £85,589.

The option of cashless payments by parents has been rolled out to all secondary schools in Pembrokeshire and all but five primary schools, which were expected to be included by Easter, the report added.

On the matter of meal charges, the report proposes a 10p increase in September to £2.45 for infants, £2.55 for juniors and £2.60 for secondary school pupils.

A 15p increase is suggested for the following year and another 10p after that.

Meal prices have gone up by 10p in each of the last three years.

With a school meal budget of £6.35m a year, officers say they want to eliminate the secondary school meal subsidy completely and cut the primary subsidy to no more than £500,000 by April 2021.

Discounts will remain in place for families with more than one child, paying by direct debit, or committing to the full school year of primary school meals.

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