Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has criticised Government plans to introduce means testing for free school meals for families on Universal Credit after research by the Children’s Society revealed that this could result in 10,000 Cambridgeshire children missing out on free school meals.
All children from families on Universal Credit are currently eligible to receive free school meals, however if Government proposals are introduced, only children from families earning less than £7,400 a year, they will be required to pay £400 a year for their child to receive school meals.
According to figures from the Children’s Society, 25% of children in Cambridgeshire are currently in poverty, and of the 14,900 school children in poverty, 10,400 would miss out on free school meals under these new proposals.
Daniel said: “What these figures tell us is how out of touch this Conservative Government is with families on benefits, struggling to make ends meet. Whoever decided that once you are earning £7,400 a year that you are suddenly well-off enough to see an extra £400 leave the budget has got no clue about the challenges that families in poverty are facing.
Let’s not forget that free school meals is about ensuring that all children get a nutritional meal, which they need to help them develop both inside and outside the classroom. That is why a Labour Government would introduce universal free school meals at primary school, to ensure no child is left hungry at school.”
Daniel goes on to say: ‘The risk with these proposals is that thousands of children across Cambridgeshire will be left hungry at school and that is a dangerous path to be taking. The Government must think again before introducing means testing for free school meals for families on Universal Credit. Instead they should be fighting inequality, not make it worse.”