Fair and Share Campaign
Email Campaign

I agree that no child should go to school hungry. Currently 1.3 million of the most disadvantaged children currently claim a free, nutritious meal at school every day. Some schools also provide breakfast clubs which offer free or subsidised meals to pupils from poorer families.

Free school meals have an important role to play in addressing poverty and inequality. Healthy school meals can also help to improve children's readiness to learn and their behaviour at school, and can also help to establish healthy eating habits for life. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government remains committed to continuing to provide free school meals to children from the poorest families. Local authorities and schools also share a responsibility to ensure that every eligible child in their area is signed up.

As the campaign highlights, the introduction of universal credit will have an impact on those eligible for Free School Meals. The Government's aim is to ensure that, as universal credit is gradually introduced from 2013, the criteria by which children in primary and secondary schools are entitled to Free School Meals are fair, simple, and easily integrated into the way that schools currently provide free school meals. It is also seeking to minimise additional costs to the public purse from any changes.

In addition, the Pupil Premium, which will increase to 900 per pupil, 2.5billion a year, in 2014-15, targets extra money to ensure schools can provide support to the most disadvantaged children.

I am pleased that the Department for Education working with the Department for Work and Pensions to simplify the Free School Meals criteria under universal credit, while ensuring that free school meals continue to be available to the families who need them most. The move to Universal Credit will not reduce the number of children eligible for Free School Meals.

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