The Mirror is reporting that private companies are pocketing millions of pounds from children’s uneaten free school meals, campaigners reveal today.
Firms which have deals to provide school catering are benefiting from a loophole which allows them to pocket any unspent cash left on pre-loaded cards, according to Citizens UK.
The group’s activists calculate some £70million a year lies dormant in youngsters’ free school meal accounts.
Some of the funds are recouped by cash-strapped schools and town halls, and pumped back into the system. But where catering has been contracted out, the money helps to swell private firms’ coffers, the group claimed.
Citizens UK researched the loophole about kids effectively losing money by not using their earmarked budget after becoming aware of cases in Tyne and Wear.
Nearly 800,000 pupils in England can receive free school meals, each given an average allowance of £2.30 a day – about £440 a year.
But figures from the Children’s Society show one in five youngsters do not take up the benefit for a variety of reasons. If the cash goes unused, it is lost.
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