POLL: Do you agree with Conservative plans to axe free school meals for all infant school children?

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Have your say

Young children will lose their free school meals under Conservative plans to save £650million for use in other areas of education.

Plans set out by the Tories would see the £4billion injection into English schools partly paid for by scrapping universal free school lunches for infants. They will instead commit to replacing the lunches with free school breakfasts for every pupil in every year of primary school.

Under the current system all children in the first three years of school get a hot meal at lunchtime and the Conservatives say scrapping that will save £650million. Children from poorer families will continue to get free breakfast and free hot lunches throughout their education.

The policy led to critics branding Theresa May the "lunch snatcher" in a reference to the "milk snatcher" jibe aimed at Margaret Thatcher.

It also sparked a flurry of debate on our Facebook page.

Rebecca May said: "It's cheaper to provide porridge, toast and basic cereal than it is to provide meat & veg. Just another way of taking from children who didn't win the birth lottery of being born into a family on a good income. Poorer families will have to pay more for dinners than they ever would for breakfast.

Natalie Lindsay said: "I pay so much tax every single month out of my hard earned wages, I would much rather see that go towards feeding children than see it get handed out to some scrounger who has no intention of working a day in their life because they are lazy."

Rachel Thompson-Chapman Again said: "The very poor (benefits) get free food the rich well they can afford it, but what about all the middle-of-the road earners who'll be taxed more to give to the poor and still have to pay for their own kids?"

"This is why the working classes are screwed under her policies, families like me who earn too much to get help but too little to be able to afford everything."

Rebecca May said: "Unfortunately people work and yet still struggle to pay bills and now the extra cost of paying for their children's meals are added to that.

Not all readers disagreed with the plans, however.

Kate Gillespie said: "Those who need will still get. Why are we paying for rich kids meals when that money could be better spent."

Louise Tyson said: " Free school meals for all infants is a relatively new thing , rather interesting decision to roll it out to all.

"Those on low incomes /benefits/qualifying always got school meals but many families it rolled out to didn't need £10 week free meals (us included) I'd rather my quota was redistributed to children who were in need of more food . Particularly in holidays where there are children who would have got a school meal . Was a very odd decision in first place."

Kelly Hughes added: "Children who are entitled to free school meals, parents on benefits or low income, will still receive a free school meal. If you can afford to pay, why should it be given for free?"

David Kiefer said: "Give the bairns a sarnie and a piece of fruit, it's not that expensive. These free school meals have only been in since 2013 - what did we all do before then?"

Jane-Louise Hepple, however, disagrees with those arguments.

She said: "I think the mentality of if you work you should pay is not so cut and dry. Due to the fact that there has been so many cuts and very few wage increases to keeps workers up with the cost of living it is these families who suffer the most and they are maybe only a pound or so over the threshold for family and working tax.

"So unfair to say it should be for only those on benefits when sometimes the people on benefits are financially better off? So I think it should be free for all."

Sarah Bilton added: "Things are tight, and I know that I can feed the kids cheaper with packed lunches then paying for school meals. If I have to make five packed lunches for my family every night it adds to our family burden...and makes is harder to cope in work.

"Or do you go to work more to pay for school dinners so life is a little easier but kids don't see their parents as much. It's taking from the people that are just getting by, which is what they pledged not to do."

Rachel Thompson-Chapman added: "A lot of catholic schools and voluntary aided schools don't allow packed lunches. I agree it doesn't cost a fortune to make a packed lunch but some people are living from food banks some people have nothing.

"Can you not see that? If you can't you're either deluded or fortunate to have money."