3,000 Sunderland children could miss out on free school meals under Universal Credit proposals

Almost 3,000 children living in poverty in Sunderland could miss out on free school meals under new Universal Credit proposals, new figures reveal.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 10:40 am
Kids could miss out on free school meals

A study from The Children’s Society estimates that 8,100 schoolchildren in Sunderland live in poverty and that 2,800 of these are missing out on free school meals.

As it has been rolled out, families in receipt of universal credit have been automatically entitled to free school meals.

However, the Government is planning to introduce means testing for free school meals under Universal Credit, which would effect more than 38,000 children in poverty in the North East and create a ‘cliff-edge’ where many families would be better off taking a pay cut.

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The Children’s Society figures show that once a family with one child passes the £7,400 threshold, they would need to earn £1,124 a year more, the equivalent of working 2.4 hours more each week at national living wage, to make up for the loss in free school meals.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said: “The Government has a golden opportunity to ensure that almost every child in poverty in England does not go hungry at school.

“There are significant, proven benefits for children’s health, education and their futures in making sure they have a healthy lunch every day, but at least one million children will miss out if this change is introduced.”

The Children’s Society consultation on free school meals entitlement under universal credit closes on January 11.

It is available on their website, at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/fsm for people to give their views.