Statement from Mark on Free School Meals

Labour’s claims that children will lose out on Free School Meals as part of the Government’s proposed changes are simply incorrect as confirmed by Channel 4’s Fact Checker. Local residents may wish to read more about how Labour are misleading people by clicking the link below:

Nadhim Zahawi MP, Minister of State for Children and Families, has been very clear that these claims are ‘a bare faced lie’ and it is disappointing that once again Labour politicians are attempting to mislead and frighten people in an attempt to win support.

I want to assure families in Rugby and Bulkington that the introduction of Universal Credit will lead to a less fragmented and more fairly targeted system that will ensure more children will benefit from free school meals.

The suggestion that one million children will lose out on free school meals is wrong. This figure is based on a hypothetical situation where all families in receipt of Universal Credit receive free school meals, which was never intended. If all children in families receiving Universal Credit were to become eligible for free school meals, around 50 per cent of all school aged pupils would be eligible. Instead, free school meals are rightly targeted at the children who need them most, with around 14 per cent of children eligible for and claiming free school meals last year.

The Department for Education recently ran a public consultation, seeking the views of parents, schools, local authorities and charities on eligibility for free school meals. In light of this, the Department has proposed transitional protections so that nobody currently receiving free school meals will lose their entitlement when moving onto Universal Credit.

Also recent estimates suggest that by 2022, around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government is committed to supporting children to go as far as their talents will take them and I am glad that, following public consultations, we will be able to extend free school meals to more disadvantaged pupils in the future. 

Mark Pawsey MP