22nd May, 2019

Borough MPs defend free school meals vote

Sarah Mason 20th Mar, 2018 Updated: 20th Mar, 2018

THE BOROUGHS MP’s have hit back at Opposition ‘scaremongering’ after they were accused of taking free school meals from a million disadvantaged children.

Both Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and Solihull MP Julian Knight voted for changes to Universal Credit which mean new applicants only receive free school meals if they earn under £7,400.

Currently, everyone receiving the benefit is entitled to free school meals and all children currently getting free school meals will continue to.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner claimed the rule for new applicants would hit one million needy children.

She based her claims on if the government continued to allow every family on Universal Credit to receive free school meals.

Conservatives in Westminster riled against the accusation, arguing that in fact 50,000 more youngsters would be entitled.

They argued that if the previous benefit system before Universal Credit was still in force, the new rules meant 50,000 more children would be eligible for free school meals.

Dame Spelman said: “I have supported Government plans which will mean an extra 50,000 children will be eligible for a free school meal at school by 2022. The Labour Party have scare mongered on this issue.

“The proposed changes to the eligibility criteria have been designed to ensure that support is targeted where it is needed most, meaning that those on the lowest incomes remain the focus of Free School Meals.

“No child will lose their meals during the rollout of Universal Credit as result of these changes.

“Furthermore, since 2010, the Government has extended the availability for free school meals to disadvantaged students in further education and introduced universal infant free school meals.”

Mr Knight said: “It’s disgraceful that Labour are using hypothetical figures to try to frighten parents and pupils in this way.

“Independent fact-checkers from both the BBC and Channel 4 have both confirmed that not one child is going to lose their eligibility for free school meals as a result of these changes, which actually extend eligibility to 50,000 new children.”

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