One Million Children Will Lose Out On Free School Meals Under Universal Credit; Children’s Society Warns
According to a charity, as many as one million children living in poverty in England are set to lose out on free school meals under universal credit proposals.

The Church of England Children’s Society says under government plans to introduce means testing for free school meals, “a cliff edge” will be created where many families would be better off taking a pay cut.

The charity accused Government of missing a “golden opportunity” to ensure no child in poverty goes hungry in school after it emerged only 700,000 of the 1.7 million school children in poverty would receive free school meals under plans to introduce means testing to the system.

The analysis of figures by the charity revealed that roughly 20,300 school children in Norfolk and 18,400 in Suffolk are in poverty. They also said 11,600 in Suffolk would miss out on free school meals.

Read More: Poverty Hits 400,000 More Children And 300,000 More Pensioners; New Report Says

The chief executive of The Children’s Society, Matthew Reed said there are significant, proven benefits for children’s health, education and their futures in making sure they have a healthy lunch every day, but at least one million children will miss out if this change is introduced.

Mr Reed also said continuing to provide free school meals for children in families on universal credit would not only help vulnerable children but would prevent low-income parents being left worse off if they take on more hours or get a pay rise. He added:

“If the government wants to show it is truly committed to tackling the growing crises of inequality and child poverty, delivering free school meals for children in low-income working families is a crucial step.”

The charity’s figures show once a family with one child passes the £7,400 cut-off, they would need to earn £1,124 a year more – the equivalent of working 2.4 hours extra every week – to make up for the loss in free school meals.

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