A WIRRAL headteacher is furious after a bank's refusal to help his school out means children will be forced to wait for their free school meals.

Kevin Flanagan, head teacher at Pensby High School, rapped Lloyds Bank for their inability to help the school in an email to parents.

The school pays for free meals for some of its poorest children on a credit card registered with Lloyds Bank and needed to increase the limit on the card to help distribute free school meal vouchers – after schools were closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

But the bank has held up that process, meaning there will be a delay in handing out the vouchers this week.

In his email, Mr Flanagan apologised for the delay, before adding: "We made contact with Lloyds Bank on March 13 to increase the limit as we keep it very low to reduce any risk to the school.

"We have had three further conversations and sent a letter with two signatures to them and today for the first time they have told us that we will need to formally complete an application form and it will take the rest of the week.

"And they have refused the payment on this week’s vouchers."

To plug the gap, Mr Flanagan himself is paying for the vouchers on his credit card.

Reflecting on the problem, Mr Flanagan had this message for local people: "I would ask that as a community we remember how unhelpful some of these big companies have been.

"We have families that need these vouchers and 17 days after we first spoke to Lloyds, we still have to go at least another week and they aren't interested after four conversations about helping anyone bar themselves."

All children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are eligible for free school meals, but from Year 3 onwards only those whose families receive certain benefits qualify.

This includes income support, Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit – as long as each parent’s income does not exceed £7,400.

Mr Flanagan noted the school is a very secure, debt-free customer of the bank.

He wondered who Lloyds were prepared to help if not such an important, financially stable organisation.

Mr Flanagan added: "We have nearly £5m a year go through that bank, we always clear the card at the end of the month and we have no debt, but they don’t care if you get these vouchers.

"I am sorry, but I feel the need to share how absolutely unhelpful they have been, because if they are not willing to help an institution that is solvent and is funded by the state, then who are they going to help.

"We will get the vouchers out as soon as we can."

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: "We want to help our customers get the finance they need at this difficult time, so we were very concerned to read the comments made by Mr Flanagan.

"We are attempting to contact him to understand in more detail what has happened, and how best we can support the school with its urgent borrowing needs."