Mark Whitehead 15 January 2018

Reforms to free school meals would leave children hungry, warn union

A leading union has dismissed government proposed reforms to free school meal entitlement as 'a cut disguised as a kindness.'

The GMB says the change under the controversial Universal Credit system would leave children hungry and could cost jobs.

In November last year, the Government launched a consultation targeting benefits for children which included a net income threshold of £7,400 a year before for free school meals.

It said about 50,000 more children would be eligible for free meals as a result - but others dispute the claim.

The Children’s Society warned it would lead to about one million children being left without a free school meal and create a ‘cliff-edge’ where many families would be better off taking a pay cut.

The GMB says the new cap would mean only the lowest-earning 20% of households would be entitled to free meals, even though 65% of expenditure on the benefit goes to families who earn more.

General secretary Tim Roache said: 'These plans should concern all parents and everyone who works in schools.

'At least one hot, nutritious meal a day should be a fundamental right for all pupils. Instead thousands of kids from deprived backgrounds are now being threatened by a new cut disguised as a kindness.

'GMB members working in schools already encounter children with no food at home, and see packed lunches of no more than crisps or chocolate, because parents are struggling to make ends meet.'

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