One million children living in poverty in England will miss out on free school meals under Universal Credit (UC) proposals, a children’s charity has warned.
Under current proposals, people in receipt of UC benefits will be means tested for free school meals once the roll out of the new system is complete.
The Children’s Society warns this will lead to about one million children being left without a free school meal and will create a ‘cliff-edge’ where many families would be better off taking a pay cut.
Once a family with one child passes the £7,400 threshold they would need to earn £1,124 a year more to make up for the loss in free school meals, the charity calculated.
‘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,’ said Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society.
‘Continuing to provide free school meals for all children on universal credit would not only help vulnerable children, it would also prevent low income parents being left worse off if they take on more hours or get a pay rise.
‘Universal credit was designed to always make work pay, but these plans will undermine that very principle.’
According to the charity’s findings, 212,000 children in London are projected to miss out on free school meals. In the West Midlands it’s 130,000 children. In the North West, 130,000 children.
The consultation on free school meals entitlement under Universal Credit closes on 11 January 2018.