ZEUS 24 Newsline — Representatives from teaching unions across England have written a letter to Whitehall demanding that all children from families who benefit from the universal credit programme should be eligible for free school meals. They are calling it one variable in an “urgent” expansion of the free meal scheme.
Currently there are approximately 1.7 million children, or one in five pupils – that – receive free school meals.
In response the government said it understands that many UK households are struggling and has expanded access to the meals more than any other government.
The price of fuel, food and other necessities have surged in recent months for families across Britain and Northern Ireland. The inflation rate is at a 40-year high.
There are many that are facing mental health problems as they try to navigate life for them and their families in a world where the cost of living has risen exponentially.
The government has announced measures to reduce the impact of the cost of living. One initiative includes a £400 energy bill discount for every household
The letter goes on to say to government officials that vulnerable children that do not currently receive free school meals are facing a “real barrier to learning”.
A portion of the letter says “We see the devastating reality of children coming to school unable to afford to buy lunch, because their family circumstances means they fall outside the restrictive free school meal eligibility criteria,”
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise that millions of households across the UK are struggling to make their incomes stretch to cover the rising cost of living, which is why, in addition to the over £22bn announced previously, we are providing over £15bn in further support, targeted particularly on those with the greatest need.
“The holiday activities and food programme runs during major school holidays, and wider welfare support is available through the household support fund, which helps vulnerable families in need with essentials, such as food and utility bills.”
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