The Mail is reporting that ministers are poised to scrap Nick Clegg’s controversial universal free school meals programme.
The flagship Lib Dem policy was supposed to ensure all primary school children were given free lunches in their first three years of education.
But it was condemned as a ‘total car crash’, with schools reporting they were forced to dip into their core education budgets to subsidise the programme…
Costs are understood to be spiralling ‘out of control’ and officials have launched a major review amid concern the policy is now ‘indefensible’.
Whitehall sources told the Mail the project is in line for the chop as part of the Department for Education’s spending review plans, submitted to the Treasury last week.
Ditching the programme would save some £600million a year which could be spent on ‘core’ education. That represents a significant chunk of the department’s £14billion ‘unprotected’ spending…
In the run-up to the policy’s launch in September 2014, a former Tory adviser criticised it saying it had been drawn up ‘on the back of a fag packet’.
Leaked documents showed Mr Clegg, then deputy prime minister, was warned about potential problems by senior civil servants, but pressed ahead regardless.
He was reportedly told the cost of the project could lead to cuts in ‘teaching and learning’. After the scheme was introduced, it emerged up to three in ten pupils in some areas were refusing the free food and taking their own instead.
In August last year, heads condemned the policy as a ‘reckless’ failure which left them without funds to improve their classrooms…
Are you surprised by the claim that this policy is set to be scrapped?
Whilst clearly well intentioned, it has always seemed completely full of holes – many of which were pointed out on the day it was first announced and have never been resolved – including issues caused for pupil premium registrations, lack of targeting of such a large amount of money, lack of space and/or facilities to prepare, serve or eat meals, weak evidence on the impact meals would have and the amount of waste created with many not wanting the meals even though eligible.
What do you think? Would you be angry or disappointed if the policy is now scrapped? What about all the money spent reinstating kitchens in many schools that didn’t have them? Or would you welcome the move as long as the money involved stays within schools and education? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…
Assuming the money stays in education, would you support scrapping universal free school meals?
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