Up until now, the Government has offered free school meals to children of all those receiving Universal Credit, but their new plans would introduce an earning threshold of £7,400. The Children’s Society charity estimates that the change would mean 7,400 children currently on free school meals going without – around one in ten of the city’s schoolchildren.
The Government’s mess around Universal Credit has left people going without payments already. I visited a local school recently who told me these moves would mean hundreds of their pupils losing out. Not only do free school meals keep children fed, they are often used as a threshold for help with school uniform, trips and music lessons.
£7,400 is a difficult amount to live on at the best of times, and the £400 or so that school meals can cost in a year mean a significant amount of money for a lot of people. The Government needs to rethink urgently and I’d encourage everyone to respond to their consultation by January 11th.