Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme

21 April 2021

The £200 million Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme runs in England with funding from the Department for Education (DfE) distributed via top tier local authorities who are responsible for spending the grant.

The grant is for local authorities to provide free places at holiday clubs in the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays in 2021 for children who receive Free School Meals.

The allocated amounts for each local authority can be seen in the Grant Determination Letter.

Can the funding be used for summer arts activities?

Yes, providing they are part of a wider offer including healthy meals, physical activities, nutritional education and signposting to support.

The guidance states the clubs must provide ‘enriching activities’ that could include ‘creative activities, for example, putting on a play, junk modelling or drumming workshops’.

The guidance also says: ‘We welcome bids that have also considered how they might encourage the continued use of fine motor skills over the holiday periods.’ Arts activities can be particularly good at developing fine motor skills.

The clubs must provide:

  1. At least one healthy meal a day – the assumption is that this will be a hot meal
  2. Enriching activities
  3. Daily physical activities
  4. Nutritional education for children and their families
  5. Information, signposting or referrals to other services and support that would benefit the children who attend their provision and their families.

How long do the clubs need to run for?

The clubs must be offered for at least four hours a day, four days a week, six weeks a year –or the equivalent amount of time spread over a longer period. The assumption is the grant would cover provision of four weeks in the summer, and a week in the Easter and Christmas holidays.

What can the funds be used for?

Up to 10% of the funding can be used by the local authority for administration costs for the local coordination of the Programme. At least 90% of the funding must be spent on the provision of free holiday club places for eligible children.

Eligible children are those on Free School Meals (FSM). There is also provision in the grant for up to 15% of the funds to be spend on other children identified by the local authorities as needing support, providing they have met all the demand for clubs from children who receive FSM.

You can read the full requirements on HAF Guidance page.

Can arts organisations deliver the HAF Programme?

The HAF guidance says local authorities can coordinate the HAF programme themselves, or they ‘may choose to work with another organisation to coordinate the provision on their behalf’ – which of course could be an arts organisation. The guidance goes on to say:

‘We encourage all local authorities to work with a wide range of partners in the delivery of this programme. Where local authorities work with community and voluntary organisations whether as a coordinator or as a delivery partner, we expect this to be done on a cost-recovery basis. This is so that these organisations are fully funded for the work they undertake.’

The DfE has a framework of standards it expects providers of the HAF programme to deliver to; however it has also said that providers can be appointed who are not yet at the required standards, providing there is a clear plan to reach the standards before the start of the holidays.

Read more on the framework of standards in the HAF Guidance.

Getting involved with your local authority’s HAF Programme

The DfE recommends that local authorities map existing provision and set up a steering group to help co-ordinate the holiday activities.

To find out who is responsible for delivering your local authority’s HAF programme you should contact your top tier local authority Children’s Services Department.

Many authorities have set up a system for local providers to express an interest in providing services which you can find with a search on their website. For example Southampton City Council’s HAF programme, which has a closing date of 23 April for Expressions of Interest.


Image credit: Sawdust Art Festival art class By Liz Goldner