William Eichler 10 January 2024

MPs to debate free school meals extension

MPs to debate free school meals extension  image
Image: PJjaruwan / Shutterstock.com.

MPs are set to debate the extension of the free school meals scheme today as tens of thousands of eligible disabled children miss out on extra support.

Around 100,000 Children with conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy and autism are missing out on the equivalent of £570 a year of financial help because they are unable to attend school, according to the disabilities charity Contact.

Last month, the Government said that free school meals should be provided to eligible children who are unable to attend school due to their special educational needs and have a package of support often referred to as education otherwise than at school (EOTAS).

This has resulted in almost 2,000 disabled children across England who were missing out on a free school meal receiving funding for one from their local council.

Campaigners hope that this decision paves the way to all eligible children getting a free school meal.

Anna Bird, chief executive at Contact, said: ‘We urge the Government to act swiftly and update its free school meals guidance. This should make clear that local authorities and schools are legally entitled to offer reasonable adjustments to children who can’t have their free school meal in the regular way, such as providing supermarket vouchers.’

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