Universal Credit and Free School Meals

As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport, on 11th January Stephanie joined calls pushing the Government to continue the guarantee of free school meals for children under Universal Credit.

Currently, as Universal Credit is rolled out, all children who live in a household receiving this new benefit will receive a free school meal.

However, under new proposals set out in a consultation by the Government, this will change when an earnings threshold of £7,400 will be introduced from April 2018.

But according to analysis by The Children’s Society, the proposals mean 3,352 children in Barnsley living in poverty could miss out on the benefits of a free school meal.

Nationally, the proposals could result in in over one million children in poverty losing out on a vital free school meal.

This figure is roughly the same as those children currently living in poverty who don’t receive a free school meal; showing that Universal Credit will do nothing to alleviate child poverty rates in the UK.

The Labour Party is calling on the Government to ensure that no child goes hungry during the school day, by ensuring that every child in a family receiving Universal Credit is eligible for Free School Meals.

Stephanie said: “Free school meals have a proven beneficial impact on a child’s education and health, and can do much do alleviate persistent child poverty in our society.

“That is why the current proposals on the future of free school meals under Universal Credit are deeply concerning, and risk forcing vulnerable children to go hungry at school.

“These changes will affect many local families and children, including some of the most the vulnerable in our community, and shows how out of touch this Tory Government in tackling poverty in Barnsley.

“It’s crucial the Government rethinks this plan and enacts policies that help alleviate poverty, not entrench it.”