Caerphilly County Borough Council & Codebase8 launch intelligent automation solution to instantly process free school meal applications in Wales

7th January 2021

The recent government announcement of nationwide school closures and children moving to online learning continues to impact families and particularly vulnerable children. With a rise in job losses, 2.3 million children have been living in food insecure households over the last 6 months. As a result of the significant increase in food poverty across the UK, the free school meals initiative is crucial to support the increasing number of vulnerable children and households.

Whilst the free school meals initiative has been welcomed with open arms by local authorities, it has also created an unprecedented surge of demand across front line services with an increasing number of applications every day. Codebase8, the specialists in robotic process automation (RPA), legacy platform modernisation and product development, witnessed first-hand how Caerphilly Council’s catering service team reacted to the demand – with front line staff working tirelessly to ensure that every eligible child received their weekly food bundle, including: five nutritious meals, one loaf of bread, one litre of milk, a fruit bag (banana, pear, apple, orange and plum) and a vegetable bag (spinach, baby corn, potatoes and carrots).

It’s upsetting that it is not uncommon for a free school meal to be the only meal a child would depend on each day. This highlights how time critical the free school meal application process is.

Because of the rapid increase in daily applications received by Caerphilly Council, the turnaround could take up to five days per application. To meet the pandemic head-on, Caerphilly’s catering and digital service teams proactively identified that a strategic deployment of intelligent automation would improve the service.

Working closely with Caerphilly Council, Codebase8, have developed and deployed an intelligent automation solution that processes free school meal applications instantaneously. The solution enables eligible children to be accepted onto the programme the same day as the application is submitted – ensuring they receive their weekly food bundle with minimum delay. Families can also check the status of their application while they wait. The solution is scalable with 24/7 processing capability and any increases in demand will not affect service delivery!

Craig John, Technical Director at Codebase8 commented: “We always strive to put people at the heart of our automation strategies, and are extremely proud of having developed this solution alongside Caerphilly. It’s fantastic to see the positive impact of our solution, supporting some of the most vulnerable children in our community at the height of a pandemic.”

Councillor Philippa Marsden, Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council added: “We are extremely proud of our free school meal delivery provision throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We made a clear commitment right at the start of the outbreak back in March that we would ensure our most vulnerable children receive healthy and nutritious meals delivered directly to their doorstep at a time when they need it most.

“This amazing achievement was made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of an army of staff, helpers and providers who were mobilised to deliver the service. The digital solutions that we also used help make the whole operation much smoother and more efficient and is an excellent example of how local authorities can embrace innovation to benefit local communities.”

The solution is fully integrated and can be rolled out as a national solution for Wales and the UK. To find out more please get in touch with Craig John, Technical Director of Automation on

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