The Huffington Post reports that Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced children in Universal Credit-claiming families with net earnings less than £7,400 will be entitled for free school meals.
Zahawi said the move will see an extra 50,000 children entitled to help. But the Children’s Society and Labour have described the move as “a huge step backwards” that will see a million children who would have qualified miss out.
Every child whose parent claims Universal Credit was due to qualify for free school meals from April, but the Government decided to make changes.
While the new threshold is £7,400 per year, ministers say once benefits are taken into account, a typical family earning that amount will take home between £18,000 and £24,000.
Angela Rayner, Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The Government should have taken this opportunity to listen to Labour’s call for all children in families receiving Universal Credit to be eligible for free school meals, but instead they have chosen to make life harder for millions of parents across the country.”
Zahawi said: “It is right that we must continue to offer the most disadvantaged young people additional help and I am pleased that, following public consultations, we can extend free school meals and the free early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.”
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