**New** Service Level Agreement (SLA) 2021-2022

15. Term time, benefits-related free school meals voucher service SLA 2021-2022

The government have issued the following guidance for all schools Providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Under normal circumstances, schools do not provide free school meals to children eligible for benefits-related free school meals (FSM) who are not in school. But during the national lockdown, the government expect schools to continue supporting children eligible for benefits-related free school meals who are at home during term time.


The government strongly encourages schools to work with their school catering team or food provider to provide food parcels to eligible free school meal pupils who are at home. Where school kitchens are open this should be the approach taken by schools.  Schools can claim for additional funding of £3.50 per week for each eligible pupil receiving food parcel provision at home; see the guidance above for more information on food parcels.

If the school has confirmed with the school catering team or food provider that they cannot provide food parcels for pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals (FSM) who are at home, the government will open a national scheme to provide supermarket vouchers via an online portal as soon as possible. Alternatively the government guidance states that schools can consider other local arrangements, which might include vouchers for local shops and supermarkets.


Buckinghamshire Council have therefore commissioned BlackHawk, the company providing the Helping Hand Winter Grant vouchers, to provide a local voucher service for Buckinghamshire Schools.  This service can be used by schools when their school catering team or food provider can not provide food parcels for pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals and not in school, either on a short-term basis or for the period of national lockdown and the move to remote learning.

The government have stated in their guidance that schools can claim to be reimbursed for additional costs associated with a voucher scheme of up to £15 per eligible FSM pupil per week.  Vouchers through the Buckinghamshire scheme can be purchased at a weekly £15 value for each eligible pupil. 

As per government guidance, the Buckinghamshire scheme will run to the week beginning 8 February.  Continuation past this date will be dependent on updated government guidance.


Contract duration

2020 – 21 Prices (Subject to VAT)

Maintained, Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled Schools (primary, secondary, PRU and special)




£15 per weekly voucher (£3 voucher x 5 days)

Academy Schools (primary, secondary, PRU and special)

Standard Package

Multi-site/Academy Trust are charged on a per site basis



£15 per weekly voucher (£3 voucher x 5 days)

Free Schools (primary, secondary, PRU and special)




£15 per weekly voucher (£3 voucher x 5 days)

Buckinghamshire Council responsibilities

Buckinghamshire Council will:

  • Commission benefits-related FSM term-time voucher provision for Buckinghamshire Schools from BlackHawk
  • Provide an intermediary service for Buckinghamshire Schools wishing to purchase FSM vouchers from BlackHawk:
    • Utilise current school purchasing system to enable schools to purchase weekly FSM vouchers for eligible pupils on a weekly basis, through school’s Traded Services Account (Bursar or Business Manager role).
    • Following a school order received by 2pm each Wednesday, send purchased digit voucher codes to schools through AnyComms by Friday 12.00pm at the latest.
    • Provide a template letter for schools to send to parents/carer
    • Invoice the school for vouchers purchased through their Traded Services Account. Invoices will be raised monthly through the established Buckinghamshire Council invoicing process.  Payment will be required as per standard school terms and conditions.

Obligations on the part of the school:

  • The school Bursar or Business Manager to order the required number of £15 lunch vouchers through the school’s Traded Services account, on a weekly basis (one x £15 voucher code per eligible pupil).
  • Where a school’s Bursar or Business Manager is not available due to absence, the Headteacher should contact tradedservices@buckinghamshire.gov.uk requesting the orders required and the Traded Services team will process the orders on their behalf.
  • Download the digital voucher codes received from Buckinghamshire Council through AnyComms – received by Friday at 12.00pm at the latest.
  • Distribute the digital voucher codes to parents/carers weekly, through an email containing the voucher code(s). Buckinghamshire Council will provide standard wording to use in your communications, but the communication must come direct from the school with school branding/letterhead.
  • Support parents and carers with the administration and redemption of the vouchers where necessary.
  • Signpost parents and carers to BlackHawk Incentives where support regarding redemption is required.
  • Invoices will be raised monthly. Pay invoice issued by Buckinghamshire Council for the full amount of vouchers ordered online within established invoicing timescales.  Please be aware that vouchers purchased are non-refundable.
  • Support Buckinghamshire Council in communication with parents who have not redeemed their vouchers, to ensure a high level of redemption.

When advice and support is required, the school will:

  • Ordering vouchers through Traded Services Account: contact tradedservices@buckinghamshire.gov.uk or 01296 674412
  • Delivery of voucher codes from Buckinghamshire Council via AnyComms: contact SMST@buckinghamshire.gov.uk
  • Voucher redemption information: contact BlackHawk customer services team through select-your-reward.co.uk/ContactUs this page also includes a telephone number to use if preferred.

Education services – BlackHawk voucher scheme 2020 – 21


Service Description


Provision of vouchers

Vouchers to be ordered by schools by Wednesdays at 2pm for delivery from Buckinghamshire Council by 12.00pm on Friday.

Delivery of voucher codes by 12.00pm Friday


Voucher redemption by parents/carers

Support Buckinghamshire Council to ensure very high levels of redemption by parents/carers.

Target – 95% redemption by parents and carers

Customer Services

Respond to support queries.

Within 2 working days

Regular customer feedback is sought to ensure that the level of service provided meets with your expectations. This is carried out through online surveys and through Schools Support Forums. We can also arrange meetings with key contacts within the service area where an issue requires further discussion; contact health and safety directly to facilitate.

We will always aim to resolve any issues that might arise regarding service delivery. Please contact the appropriate escalation contact as listed below. In the unlikely event that a dispute cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, a formal complaint can be raised.

All complaints are taken seriously and in confidence.  The Council will work aim to resolve your complaint to a satisfactory conclusion.

We will always aim to resolve any issues that might arise regarding service delivery.




Immediate escalation


If you are not satisfied with the response you have received following the normal support process


(outside formal Buckinghamshire Council complaints process)


Concerns regarding delivery of voucher codes:




Or alternatively:


For concerns regarding ordering of vouchers through Traded Services account:



Please provide details of your concerns and any supporting material.



The formal Buckinghamshire Council complaint escalation process

The Council’s Customer Complaints and Information Team (CCIT). CCIT will acknowledge the complaint within 10 days of receipt.


The CCIT will then contact the Property Services Director with a request for information/investigation.


The CCIT will respond within 28 days.

Mailbox: complimentsandcomplaints@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Buckinghamshire Council reserve the right to amend service offerings as described in the brochure.  These amendments will only be addressed in the event circumstances force changes to how we deliver our service going forward.

Buckinghamshire Council commits to providing sufficient notice, transition period and an effective date to any new arrangements that may be required. We will keep you informed and will be happy to discuss such changes and affects accordingly.

Sufficient notice may vary dependent on service offering, please see relevant service descriptors for further information.  Please be aware that products offered as a result of government COVID-19 guidance, such as these FSM vouchers, are subject to change as per changes to government guidance.


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Last updated: 1 April 2021

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