Up to 2.6 million children could miss out on free school meals by 2022, says the Government’s own analysis.
Labour is warning vulnerable youngsters will go hungry because of the Tories’ changes to eligibility under Universal Credit
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said yesterday the Government’s claims about school meals are “falling apart” as she urged it to adopt Labour’s plan for free school meals for all primary school children.
Under the new system households are not eligible to free meals when they are earning £7,400 a year, excluding benefits. Whereas it is £14,000 in Nothern Ireland.
A government technical note published in May said that if the change had not been made, “around half of all (state school) children would become eligible for FSM and the meals would no longer be targeted at those who need them the most”.
It said that in 2017 around 1.1 million disadvantaged children were eligible and received a free school meal, some 14 per cent of all state-school pupils.
But if the change had not been made the number of additional children who would have been eligible was between 2,300,000 and 2,600,000 by 2022.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted: “Around 50,000 more children will benefit from free school meals by 2022.”
It comes after the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned in April that it expected there to be “losers” under changes introduced via UC, which sees six benefits rolled into one payment, despite 50,000 more children becoming eligible.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said the policy was “cruel, heartless and needless”.
He said: “I can’t believe there’s even a debate about whether kids should go hungry or not.
“In blunt and stark terms, this policy is taking food from the mouths of millions of children from poorer backgrounds.
“Our members working in schools already encounter children with no food at home, they see packed lunches of no more than crisps or chocolate and buy snacks for their pupils out of their own pockets because too many parents are struggling to make ends meet.”
Universal credis is now rearing it’s ugly head again in taking from the most disadvantaged in society.
Undoubtedly already under pressure foodbanks could be facing even more referrals to cope with this massive change.
To know more about whether your family could be affected by the school meals change, head here .