Cost of Tories’ free breakfasts ‘could treble’

The BBC reports that giving a free breakfast to every primary school child in England could cost more than treble the £60m the Tory party set aside for it, academics say.

Experts analysing the plans re-costed them at between £180m and £400m, depending on how many pupils take them. A Conservative Party spokesman said the original £60m costing of its universal offer was based on a 25% take-up rate.

Researchers at Education Data Lab say it also assumes food costs of 25p per pupil and does not include staff costs.

Academics led by Dr Rebecca Allen analysed the costing of the pledge, and discovered it was based on an evaluation of a particular charitable scheme, called Magic Breakfast which relies on  donated food.

Researchers at Education Data Lab found the full cost of the scheme would be anything between £180m and £400m, depending on what proportion of children took up the offer.

Responding to these findings, a Conservative Party spokesman said: “We’re promising to set up a free breakfast club, similar to the ones that the EEF/IFS said were as useful as universal infant free school meals, so that every child who would like a breakfast in school can have one.”

Dr Allen added that if the free breakfast clubs acted as a proper child care substitute, then many parents would switch from their existing childminders and providers into the free clubs.

Dean Horridge, chief executive of Fit For Sport, which runs breakfast clubs in schools, said the Conservative estimate was “unrealistic”. He added: “The Fit For Sport average charge for our breakfast club is £4.20 per child per day but the costs well exceed that of the Conservative’s projected 25p per child per day.”

Read more Cost of Tories’ free breakfasts ‘could treble

Do you think parents will replace morning child care with free breakfasts? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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