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Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Grant Programme 2022 | Sandwell Council

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Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Grant Programme 2022

Apply now for the Holiday Activity and Food grant programme 2022

The Department for Education have awarded grant funding to local authorities to provide Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) to cover the Easter, summer and Christmas holiday period for 2022 to support school aged children and young people (reception to year 11) including those with SEND who are eligible for benefit related Free School Meals to access healthy food and enriching activities free of charge.

This grant is open to voluntary and community sector / not for profit organisations / schools and other educational settings / private sector organisations / clubs. 

Closing date for applications is Friday 10 June 2022 at 4.30pm. Applications received after this deadline will not be processed.

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Frequently asked questions

1. Who will be deciding whether we receive our grant payments?

Members of the HAF steering group will continue to make decisions regarding the payment of grants and decisions will then be ratified by the Director for Children and Education. All grant payments will continue to be paid via the Voluntary sector support team and the quality early years and childcare team.

2. Can we apply our own branding to our local programme?

We are asking that any communications or publicity material for your provision indicates that the HAF programme is funded by Sandwell Council as part of the Department for Education (DfE)

Please refer to the DfE communication toolkit for guidance.

3. What reporting, monitoring information and data will we be asked for?

The grant determination letter and programme guidance set out the requirements for the data that we are required to collect. It is vital that the data we collect is robust and covers all of the work we deliver as we need to demonstrate that the programme works, as well as ensuring there are financial controls in place, to support the effective management of the grant funding. We have learned a lot about data collection over the last year of operating the HAF programme. Our aim will be to make this as simple and easy as we can while at the same time, making sure we get the data that demonstrates the success of the programme.

4. Data collection in 2021 was difficult for providers – will it be more user friendly this time?

We realise this was challenging in the past and have looked at all the feedback. We will do what we can to make it as light-touch as possible, but we will need a certain level of information for our own assurance. We are providing significant sums of money and collectively we must ensure it is used to good effect. Through using upshots we are putting systems in place to record relevant information, ensuring we are operating in line with GDPR requirements.

5. Will there be a national evaluation programme?

An evaluation is being undertaken this year to evaluate the impact the programme has had and is focused primarily on delivery across the summer. This is being carried out by our independent evaluators, Ecorys. Sandwell has been identified as one of the local authorities included in this evaluation programme and therefore we require full cooperation with the evaluation from grant funded partners of the HAF programme, as the responses gathered will not only help us tailor the support that we provide to you over the forthcoming months, but will also be used to help us  improve the programme for the future.

6. Do providers need to be Ofsted registered?

Holidays clubs may need to register with Ofsted and there are associated benefits of doing so. We know that not all will need or want to do that.

7. How much funding will each organisation receive and when will payments be made?

The maximum allocations you will be awarded are set out in your grant determination letter which will be sent on successful acceptance of grant.

8. How will the programme reflect increasing need and demand if the number of FSM eligible children increases?

We recognise the scale of demand for this type of provision and how that has changed since COVID. We routinely scrutinise data on the number of children eligible for and claiming free school meals, this data is showing an increase nationally.

Therefore, we have through our contingency fund identified additional funding primarily to help providers who might experience higher demand from eligible children. The additional funding will have to be requested and a business case submitted to access this.

9. Can HAF funding be used to pay for transport costs to enable children to access the provision?

We want provision to be accessible for all FSM-eligible children who want to attend. If you identify children who would like to attend and do not have provision within easy reach, you can fund transport costs for them to access the provision. These transport costs will be treated as programme expenditure.

10. Is there a limit to capital expenditure within the grant?

Funding can be used to purchase equipment for the programme, for example, to improve the catering or sports equipment at an individual club. However, where this expenditure meets our criteria for classification as capital expenditure, the amount you spend on this should be limited to 2% of your overall programme expenditure and must be accounted for.

Capital expenditure is classed as:

  • Individual assets worth over £2,500
  • Grouped assets, that is assets of a similar nature that are purchased at the same time, which cost £2,500 or more overall
  • Bulked assets, for example a bulk purchase of equipment where the value of the

individual item is below the set value, which cost £2,500 or more overall.

We would not see the contents of activity packs form part of a bulk purchase of equipment, therefore that would count towards your programme expenditure.

11. Can the funding be used to subsidise schemes that offer FSM and non-FSM places? Is it acceptable to support their overheads?

Funding can be used to support a comprehensive, inclusive, and accessible offer, e.g., setting up new provision where needed, paying for additional staff to expand existing provision or to meet additional needs, etc.

Funding can also be used to support quality improvement, e.g., money to bring in activity providers such as sports coaches; money to establish partnerships with catering organisations.

12. Can the funds be used for residential provision?

It is open to providers to consider the use of residential provision, but they should bear in mind that it attracts higher costs, so this would have to be carefully planned and justified looking at the level of demand across the FSM cohort.

13. Can the funding be used for delivery of provision outside of Easter, summer, and Christmas?

No, HAF funding is for the provision of free holiday clubs (including food) during the 2022 Easter, summer, and Christmas holidays.

The DfE have made clear that we are still required to deliver the 4x4x4 model (e.g. minimum of 4 days, 4 hours over 4 weeks)

However Sandwell are able to fund a limited offer for the half term holidays which is why these dates are in the application form.

14. Can the funding be used to support other initiatives alongside food and activities that provide support to families to help raise them out of poverty (e.g., welfare rights and money advice in venues)?

Part of the role of HAF involves working with other local services and agencies to ensure a joined-up approach, including asking clubs to signpost families to support, help and resources. In the past, some HAF clubs have also run sessions for families including work on budgeting, offered volunteering opportunities for family members, worked with local support networks, signposted to citizens advice, engaged with Jobcentre Plus, etc.

15. How much funding should be allocated to meals, and will there be any funding restrictions in terms of the split between paying for food vs. Activities?

There is no fixed amount. For reference, the DfE allocate around £2.34 per pupil per meal for free school meals during term time. There are also no restrictions in terms of how much you spend on food vs activities. Previous HAF providers have provided food through a variety of arrangements, for example, using school or community kitchens, food delivered and prepped at the club, use of food intervention charities, the approach will often depend on the set up of the individual provider.

16. Is provision only funded for FSM children aged 5-16 (so not Early Years or post 16s)?

Yes, the funding is for eligible school-aged children only. This would include 4-year-olds who have already started in reception.

17. Can siblings under the age of 5 attend with parents?

The primary beneficiaries of the programme are intended to be children eligible for and receiving benefits-related FSM. However, if a parent turns up with younger children who are not eligible, we would not require them to be turned away or asked to pay. Clubs should be able to use their discretion in these circumstances.

18. Can this funding be used to cover parents/carers attending sessions?

In previous years, we have seen clubs work successfully with parents, sometimes inviting them in to attend sessions etc., so we are happy for this to be included in 2022. We know that this will not work in all situations and will very much depend on the type of provision, activity or club.

19. Does this funding cover children with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)?

We have temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).

20. Can we support eligible children in the summer who are transitioning from nursery to reception (so who have not yet technically started school)?

For this year, we are focussing on school-age FSM eligible children only.

21. Is there flexibility on eligibility criteria, for example offering free places for non - FSM children, such as those accessing alternative provision or working families on low incomes?

The funding is for children eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals. We encourage clubs to make paid-for places available to other families. If you feel there are other disadvantaged groups who would benefit from free places, and you can show that you have used your allocated funding to provide fully for the target FSM group, you can seek approval to use up to 5% of your funding to provide free or subsidised places for children who are not eligible but who are considered by you as in need of this provision. This request must be made and agreed in advance of any holiday period and you should demonstrate that you are reaching eligible children who would like to participate.

22. How will this cover children not in mainstream schools but meet FSM criteria – can they attend?

The funding is for children who receive benefits-related free school meals.

23. What about children who are not in mainstream education, for example, some children in the home-school community?

The funding is primarily for children eligible for and receiving benefits-related free school meals. However, we recognise that there may be some cases where we will have to use a degree of flexibility to ensure that those of greatest need, who do not meet the FSM criteria, benefit from support during the holidays.

24. Can we set up cross border working protocols to support children from surrounding LAs?

Yes, we recommend discussing this with your neighbouring partners as a first step, but you would need to clearly evidence the spend associated to Sandwell eligible children and the funding source associated to neighbouring authority’s eligible children.

25. Is there an expectation that families will need ‘proof’ of entitlement to FSM to access the provision? Where schemes are being delivered in areas of high deprivation with a large proportion of families in receipt of FSM – is that sufficient or is further identification of FSM status required?

We would like providers to have a suitable and practical process in place to ensure that the right children are receiving this provision. We are not specifying precise expectations on day-to-day checks however we do require all children accessing HAF funded provision, whether they are in receipt of FSM or not to register with the HAF programme via the council website.

This allows the central HAF team to undertake eligibility checks, rather the provider having to undertake this. As Part of the evaluation we will be required to provide further individual data per child to ensure eligibility.

26. Can eligibility checks take place retrospectively?

Providers need to have a suitable and practical process in place to ensure that the right children are receiving this provision. We are not specifying precise arrangements on day-to-day checks for 2022, and we know that delivery models and booking arrangements will differ between partners.

In the first instance, we recommend providers target eligible families and make them aware of the holiday offer in advance. The Upshots central registration system allows the HAF team to do that for funded providers, alongside your own target marketing.

We acknowledge that it might not always be possible for families to book provision. We would encourage providers to ensure as far as possible that their processes avoid stigma and do not result in families being turned away on the day.

For drop-in participants, this might mean that providers ask parents to self-certify their child’s free school meal status. In these instances, we do not object to retrospective eligibility checks.

If a check shows that a child is not in receipt of benefits-related free school meals, there are several options. The grant agreement indicates that you can seek written approval to use up to 5% of its funding to provide free or subsidised holiday club places for children who are not in receipt of benefits-related free school meals but who are considered as in need of this provision.

Alternatively, the family may be able to recover up to 85% of the cost of this provision through the childcare costs element of Universal Credit depending on the status of the provider, or you may choose to cover this place through other funding sources. In some cases, the family may be able to pay for the provision.

26. What support are we expected to provide at Christmas?

You should aim to provide four days of face-to-face provision, but as a minimum

27. For summer, the expectation was that HAF sessions lasted for a minimum of four hours. How long does the face-to-face element of Christmas provision have to last?

If you are running the type of face-to-face provision that you operated at Easter and summer, then we expect the sessions to last for at least four hours.

If you are running a festival or fayre, then we would expect the offer to be available for at least four hours, but we do not expect all children and families to attend for a minimum of four hours.

We do, however, expect these events to include both hot food and activities for attendees. Similarly, if you are running day trips or days out then we do not expect all attendees to go for a minimum of four hours, but they should include both food and activities.

28. Can we buy Christmas presents for participating children with our HAF money?

You cannot use HAF funding to buy presents. If you have an alternative source of funding, it is open to providers to supplement the food hampers and activity packs with other resources, including, if appropriate, presents, but these could not be funded by the HAF programme. The funding you receive for the HAF programme should only be used for the food and activity packs.

29. What about vouchers for food or fuel?

You cannot use HAF funding to provide families with vouchers. If you have an alternative source of funding, it is open to providers to supplement the food hampers and activity packs with other resources, including, if appropriate, vouchers for food or fuel, but these could not be funded by the HAF programme. The funding you receive for the HAF programme should only be used for the food and activity packs – and should not be used to provide vouchers.

30. Can we just offer support for children remotely?

We know that the HAF programme offers a wide range of support for families and goes well beyond the delivery of food and activities: it’s a point of contact for children and families during holiday periods that can be vital for them in accessing support and services and that holiday provision is most effective when it is delivered face to face.

Our expectation is that most of those children receiving additional/remote support should have attended at least some element of the face-to-face provision, i.e., they should have attended sessions at a HAF club.

31. What if children and families are unable to attend face to face provision at all?

We expect these instances to be minimal and we are encouraging face-to-face support where possible. In the event that a small number of children and families are unable to attend face to face provision, you will have flexibility to support them with high quality food hampers and activity packs.

32. What is meant by the additional support that will run alongside face-to-face provision?

At Easter 2021, because of the COVID-19 situation, Sandwell opted to provide blended support in lieu of a universal face-to-face HAF programme. At Christmas, this involved children receiving:

  • High quality and seasonal recipe boxes or food parcels that provide healthy meals
  • Activity packs
  • Access to online support

The additional support can continue alongside face to face provision, but it must be only in circumstances whereby access to face to face provision is not possible.

33. What are the requirements around safeguarding?

It is essential that all providers have robust safeguarding arrangements in place. The DfE have recently published expanded guidance for this programme, including more detailed guidance on responsibilities, procedures and DBS checking arrangements.

Please review the updated guidance and ensure that safeguarding arrangements are applied in full.

34. Why don’t free places cover the whole school holidays?

We know that families face the greatest challenges in the longer holidays, particularly during the summer. The programme is designed to work in conjunction with the existing childcare offers across government. This includes the Universal Credit childcare scheme and Tax-Free Childcare. Eligible parents can top up their free hours using these other, existing childcare offers.

For those who claim Universal Credit but do not claim FSM, they can access holiday or wraparound childcare provision and potentially claim back up to 85% of the cost through the Universal Credit childcare element – the ability to claim will depend on the provision itself.

Providers will have flexibility about how they deliver this provision to best serve the needs of families in their area. For example, in the Christmas and Easter holidays, local areas could spread a week’s worth of provision across a two-week period.

35. What are the expectations around the provision of food?

We expect that the food will meet the school food standards, ensuring all children receive a healthy, balanced meal. There is a requirement for the majority of meals will all be hot, however, it may be tricky to provide a good variety of hot food if undertaking certain activities from certain venues. In these instances, we would allow a cold food offer as long at it adheres to the school food standards.

36. Is there any additional support to help deliver hot food if organisations do not have the facilities to do so?

Yes, we can work with organisations to try and link them with a food provider on the application form you will be able to specify that you require this, we will then work with you to ensure provide this support and make sure that it works for you.

37. How do the changes to the 2014 Food Information Regulations affect us?

From 1 October, changes to the Food Information Regulations 2014 mean there are new labelling requirements for food that is pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS). Full information is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

We expect all providers to continue to take robust steps to ensure that special dietary needs can be met, and that any allergen ingredients are not introduced where substitution of food products has taken place. Providers should also maintain processes to demonstrate due diligence over the handling of substituted ingredients or products.

This can be done, for example, by seeking full advice from suppliers over product changes, scrutinising labelling and product information and ensuring the allergen matrix is reviewed to maintain accuracy.

Allergen guidance for institutional caterers, including schools.

Further sources of advice on allergens can be found on the school food resources page of

38. What are the nutritional education requirements?

Clubs must include an element of nutritional education each day aimed at improving the knowledge and awareness of healthy eating for children. These do not need to be formal learning activities and could, for example, include activities such as getting children involved in food preparation and cooking, growing fruit and vegetables, and taste tests.

Clubs must also include training and advice sessions for parents, carers, or other family members, which provides advice on how to source, prepare and cook nutritious and low-cost food.

39. Will the funding allow children to only access the food aspects of the programme without the activities should they choose to do so?

The HAF programme aims to address issues which go beyond food provision. Access to enriching activities are a crucial element of HAF and we do not want providers to focus on food provision alone.

40. What are the expectations of providing support for lunch if the child is unable to attend the holiday activity provision?

This provision is in place for children to access enriching activities and to have a healthy meal. Attendance is voluntary, therefore there is no expectation to provide food provision through HAF funding to those children not attending the provision.

41. Will there be any specific requirements on the types of activities provided or will this be flexible for each programme to decide what works best for their children and families?

No, there are no specific requirements on the type of provision, beyond the standards that we have set out. Provision should be accessible, and you should consider what support is available to children with SEND.  You will need to consider the range of provision available, with consideration to age, location and accessibility.

42. Will there be any limitations for provision in venues and outdoor spaces that are accessible to the public during the hours of activities being provided?

It will be for individual providers to select the venues they want to use and to ensure they are safe and can deliver the programme in the intended way.

43. Is there scope within the programme to focus on areas other than just physical activity and food, e.g., mental health and wellbeing?

Yes, you will have the flexibility to adapt the programme to suit the needs of the community you serve.

44. How is the funding distributed?

Funding will be allocated across Easter, Summer and Christmas holiday period as follows:

  • Delivery across one holiday period – 100% paid upfront at start of holiday period.
  • Delivery across two holiday periods - 70% paid upfront with remaining 30% paid prior to start of second holiday period.
  • Delivery across all three holiday periods – 70% paid upfront with remaining 30% paid prior to start of third holiday period.

Conditions of payment will be provided in the Grant Agreement.

45. Do staff within organisations have to have specific SEND training to deliver the HAF programme?

No, provision is inclusive across the whole HAF programme. We would not stop an organisation accessing grant funding because they have not got the specific requirements. There will be a training programme that will be free to HAF providers including Food Hygiene, First Aid, Food School Standards and Upshot database training.  Any organisation that applies and requires additional support to be able to support children with additional requirements will receive this.

46. If I participated in HAF 2021 will I need to submit all my supporting documents again?

No, if you completed a grant application form for 2021 HAF delivery the only additional documents you are required to submit are your public liability information, any updated DBS/Safeguarding information and sample menus and activity plan.

47. Can I charge a refundable holding deposit when families are booking children on?

Yes you can charge a booking deposit to secure places that can be refunded when the child attends the first session or with appropriate cancellation notices which must be detailed to the family prior to booking and on enquiry.