Thousands of children across the region to lose free school meals

The Northern Echo: Thousands of children across the region to lose free school meals Thousands of children across the region to lose free school meals

TENS of thousands of the region’s poorer children will lose their right to free school meals under the Government’s welfare revolution, a shock report has warned.

The Children’s Society has raised the alarm over the harsh impact of the new “universal credit”, to be introduced in October next year.

The shake-up will end payments of certain benefits – and also the trigger of entitlement for a free school meal – if a household earns more than £7,500.

At present, children are entitled to free meals if their families earn less than about £16,000, unless they receive a working tax credit (WTC) topup.

The switch threatens to remove free meals from 120,000 poorer families in England with more than 350,000 children, including several tens of thousands in the North-East.

More than 25,000 youngsters in the region already miss out, even though they are classed as living in poverty – because the family income threshold for a free meal is lower.

But the Children’s Society said the shift to the universal credit would make the situation far worse and leave 120,000 families with a bill for school meals of about £367 a year, per child. A lone parent with three children earning up to £11,500 a year would be better off taking a pay cut to below £7,500, or quitting work altogether.

The report triggered anger in County Durham, where every primary pupil received a free hot lunch under a two year trial launched by Labour – but it was axed by the coalition Government.

Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour MP for Durham City, said: “The Government is neglecting some of the poorest families in the country by planning to take away free school meals from 350,000 children.”

Studies have found pupils who eat school meals are more likely to behave and concentrate.

They are also less likely to eat junk food outside the school gates.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather admitted the Government had to “think hard” about entitlement to free school meals under the universal credit, but said: “No plans have yet been set and we will be consulting later this year. We remain totally committed to continuing to provide free school meals to children from the poorest families.”

The Children’s Society report also highlighted how 1.2m poorer children failed to claim free school meals, while another 700,000 in poverty were not entitled to them in the first place.

Last night, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, backed that campaign, saying: “Nutritional meals are vital for all low income families.”

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:07am Fri 20 Apr 12

stevegg says...

Its the archaic benefits system thats at fault where low income working families are denied help and are worse off than those not working on full benefits.
Its the archaic benefits system thats at fault where low income working families are denied help and are worse off than those not working on full benefits. stevegg

11:07am Fri 20 Apr 12

Bella22 says...

I work and have to pay for everything my kids do.I am sick of getting letters stating the cost followed by free if you are on benefits its not fair.
I work and have to pay for everything my kids do.I am sick of getting letters stating the cost followed by free if you are on benefits its not fair. Bella22

11:24am Fri 20 Apr 12

loonyleft says...

The goverment said they were going to make work pay,yet they seem to be attacking people on low incomes instead.Perhaps they,ve found out they can,t legally starve people on benefits into to work that does,nt exist
The goverment said they were going to make work pay,yet they seem to be attacking people on low incomes instead.Perhaps they,ve found out they can,t legally starve people on benefits into to work that does,nt exist loonyleft

12:40pm Fri 20 Apr 12

CTRILEY says...

Margaret Thatcher = Milk snatcher

David Cameron = Meal snatcher

Why not reduce the benefits and freebies for millionaire MPs before taking away those on low incomes?
Margaret Thatcher = Milk snatcher David Cameron = Meal snatcher Why not reduce the benefits and freebies for millionaire MPs before taking away those on low incomes? CTRILEY

4:53pm Fri 20 Apr 12

NO EINSTEIN says...

Now come on lets be right here, of course little kids should suffer too, and go hungry.
Just like all those others that can't fight back, like pensioners, and the police (who can't strike).
Its only right the good and hard working should suffer, if you go by this government's way of doing things.
I need £200 worth of dental work doing,(as my teeth really hurt, i kid you not) but can't afford it with three kids.
Yet on saying that, if i was in prison, or some drug head or alcoholic on long term sickness it would be free.
This country has it ALL wrong.
Now come on lets be right here, of course little kids should suffer too, and go hungry. Just like all those others that can't fight back, like pensioners, and the police (who can't strike). Its only right the good and hard working should suffer, if you go by this government's way of doing things. I need £200 worth of dental work doing,(as my teeth really hurt, i kid you not) but can't afford it with three kids. Yet on saying that, if i was in prison, or some drug head or alcoholic on long term sickness it would be free. This country has it ALL wrong. NO EINSTEIN

8:55am Sat 21 Apr 12

Idontknowaboutyoubut says...

"It's the same the 'ole world over.
It's the poor wot gets the blame.
It's the rich wot gets the pleasure
Aint it all a bleedin'shame...?
As sung by Cam&Clegg,at the Palace of Westminster Variety Show,supported by Osborne & Alexander as the pantomime donkey
"It's the same the 'ole world over. It's the poor wot gets the blame. It's the rich wot gets the pleasure Aint it all a bleedin'shame...? As sung by Cam&Clegg,at the Palace of Westminster Variety Show,supported by Osborne & Alexander as the pantomime donkey Idontknowaboutyoubut

6:24pm Sat 21 Apr 12

pilchrat says...

If you can't afford to have kids don't have them. Either everyone gets free meals, or nobody does.

I always wondered why kids at my school (years back) sailed through the tills at lunchtime with a bit of paper and I was reaching into my pocket for the couple of quid my dad would give me to spend each day. We weren't well off, I'd say probably scraped along.

Morally, it should continue. But as per second poster, why should those who work hard (and just sit outside the free meals criteria) pay whilst those sat on their backsides get it all free. If schools are free for all, why not make school meals free for all?
If you can't afford to have kids don't have them. Either everyone gets free meals, or nobody does. I always wondered why kids at my school (years back) sailed through the tills at lunchtime with a bit of paper and I was reaching into my pocket for the couple of quid my dad would give me to spend each day. We weren't well off, I'd say probably scraped along. Morally, it should continue. But as per second poster, why should those who work hard (and just sit outside the free meals criteria) pay whilst those sat on their backsides get it all free. If schools are free for all, why not make school meals free for all? pilchrat

6:48pm Sat 21 Apr 12

DOGLAWRENCE says...

A person I know is over the threshold for free meals but is to miserly to let his Son have School meals and sends him with next to nothing in his packed lunch . He would rather spend his surplus money on running a car than seeing his Son is well nourished . The Government have no idea how to make the System fair
A person I know is over the threshold for free meals but is to miserly to let his Son have School meals and sends him with next to nothing in his packed lunch . He would rather spend his surplus money on running a car than seeing his Son is well nourished . The Government have no idea how to make the System fair DOGLAWRENCE

9:27am Mon 23 Apr 12

itchard says...

Looking at the photo of what might constitute of a school "meal".... I'm not really sure how they could justify charging in the first place.
I expect prisoners get better food....
Looking at the photo of what might constitute of a school "meal".... I'm not really sure how they could justify charging in the first place. I expect prisoners get better food.... itchard

2:07pm Mon 23 Apr 12

kristal27 says...

Stop school meals (free or otherwise) altogether -then the benefits brigade will have to get off their backsides and make packed lunches using their child tax credits to pay for food instead of upgrading their iPhones
Stop school meals (free or otherwise) altogether -then the benefits brigade will have to get off their backsides and make packed lunches using their child tax credits to pay for food instead of upgrading their iPhones kristal27

5:34pm Mon 23 Apr 12

loonyleft says...

Kristal you sound all heart baby,lets get together,i,m sure we can make beautiful music together-not!!
Kristal you sound all heart baby,lets get together,i,m sure we can make beautiful music together-not!! loonyleft

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree