Assessment team have advised that applications for 2016/17 Free School Meals (and Clothing Grants where applicable) are at peak volume and may now take up to 6 weeks to process. If your parent/carer applied more than 6 weeks ago and hasn’t heard from the team, they can be contacted on 01324 503850. Otherwise, please wait for contact; these are being worked on daily.
Archive for the ‘General’ Category
A few things to update on today:
Application forms and guidance notes are now with our printers and should be distributed towards the end of this month. Please note that the layout of and details within these have changed, including the address to which completed forms should be addressed. Please check carefully before posting.
Please also note that we’re changing the way EMA applications are assessed this year. If your parents/carers are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, the amount of hard-copy evidence you need to send us should reduce. You can find more information on this in the application form and guidance.
When your application form is received, it and the evidence you send, will be scanned and securely held in electronic format. This will mean that if there’s a query or error on the form (eg you forget to sign it), we’ll print the page and send it back with a letter explaining what you need to do.
If you were previously in receipt of EMA and are age-eligible to return to school/Activity Agreements, you will be posted a form in due course. We’re awaiting details of recent school leavers to allow us to update our records and will then arrange for the mailing when these and the forms are also available.
If you have the information needed, please don’t delay sending your application form. The volume of applications is extremely high August to October and these will take longer to progress during this time.
We are making it easier to apply for Free School Meals and Clothing Grants. If you were eligible for Free School Meals in the 2015/16 school year, we will be contacting your parent/carers from 16th May 2016 to check if they want to apply again for next year. If they haven’t heard from us by 13th June please have them contact the assessment team on 01324 503850. Remember, they need to apply each year.
If your parent/carer is applying for the first time, they can download an application form from the Falkirk Council website from next week or pick one up from most One Stop Shops.
Please return all application forms as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Meals can only be provided from the date the application is approved and entitlement cannot be back dated. Clothing grants are not payable for young people aged 16 or over on or before 30th September 2016 so if this applies to you, you should apply for EMA in your own name – applications for 2016/17 EMA should be available in June.
Parent/carers can get help to fill out their form from any of the offices listed on the application form. General advice is also available by calling 01324 590599.
EMA entitlement which was confirmed on a provisional (temporary) basis only now need to be reviewed. Applications which can’t be reassessed by 5th February will be suspended. Reminder letters have been sent; if you are in receipt of a provisional EMA please ensure the information required is sent as soon as possible.
Applications both from young people aged 16 between 1st October 2015 and 29th February 2016 or anyone applying under the new higher threshold scheme must be received by 29th February to be considered for payment backdated to the start of term. If you’re thinking of applying please send us your application as soon as possible, even if incomplete. We can then register, check and send it back awaiting the outstanding information.
A final reminder also that following the Christmas/New Year break and a 2-day return week, the next payment will be due to reach accounts on Friday 29th January.
The final payment run for this year is complete and due to reach accounts on Tuesday 29th December (delayed due to bank holidays). This includes attendance in week ended 18th December only.
As timetabled, there will be no payment due for EMA applicants on either of the 2 day weeks ended 25th December & 8th January as they don’t meet Scottish Government criteria for payable weeks.
EMA team will be unavailable from tonight 23rd December and over the Christmas/New Year period. General information can continue to be found here or on the EMA page of the Falkirk Council website. If you need to know more, please contact us from 5th January.
We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. See you in 2016!
We’ve had a few queries about non-receipt of remittance slips which are normally received by post the day before payments are due in accounts. We’re checking this out further but for now, it does appear that it is only the mailing which is affected, and not your actual payments.
We’ll post an update here once we know more.
As before, if you have a query about the amount received please contact your school or Activity Agreement worker. Again as a reminder, for Data Protection reasons any enquiries about your EMA must be made by you and not your parent/carer.
Scottish Government recently announced mid-year changes to the EMA programme. The first is that income thresholds (2014/15 taxable income) are to increase from 1st January to £24421 for families with one dependent child and £26884 for families with more than one dependent child. All applicants aged 16 or over on or before 29th February can apply under these new thresholds from October but payment under these new thresholds can only begin from the start of the January 2016 term (subject to usual application submission deadlines).
We will be reviewing all who had previously applied under the previous thresholds of £20321/ £22403 and were refused because the income was too high. We will contact those who could now benefit from the higher threshold in due course.
If you are aged 16 or over on or before 30th September and are applying under the higher threshold, you can only be paid from January ’16. If your household income was within the previous lower thresholds, you will still be eligible for payment from the start of the August term (for applications received by 30th September) or from the week in which we first received your application (applications received between 1st Oct ’15 & 31st March ’16).
The Scottish Government announcement about this increase can be found here. We will arrange for applications and guidance to be updated in due course.
The second change advised by Scottish Government affects applications for awards made on a provisional (temporary) basis and the possible recovery of any/all EMA payments made. We are awaiting further guidance from Scottish Government on this matter and will advise further once we know more. If you are affected by this change we will write to you.
As you will appreciate, these changes will take time to be fully updated in our publicity items, application paperwork and other correspondence. We will endeavour to do so as soon as possible while we continue to log and assess applications currently being received.
We understand the central helpline for DWP detailed in our guidance document, although correct at time of print, is now no longer valid. Unfortunately DWP have been unable to provide us with an alternative centralised number so if you need to check addresses or other information related to benefit income, in the first instance please check any previous correspondence from DWP for contact details. A local DWP benefit office may also be confirm relevant contacts.