Free school meals for those who need them most has been a hallmark of our school system for decades. It has been an accepted principle under numerous governments that no child – no matter how much money their parents have – should go hungry whilst they’re studying. UNISON has also supported the extention of free school meals to all children, reducing the stigma faced by those children who rely on them and ensuring a healthy meal during the school term for all children.
Yet now, thanks to the introduction of the government’s Universal Credit, one million children living in poverty who could receive free school meals won’t get them. So far, every family receiving Universal Credit has received free school meals. Yet from April 1st this year, any family on Universal Credit earning more than £7400 will be be excluded from free school meals.
That’s no April fool – so much for making sure that “work always pays”.
Instead, these new rules will mean families in work – including many UNISON members – will be penalised through losing free school meals if they work more hours or get a pay rise.
That’s why UNISON is supporting The Children’s Society’s campaign to stop the changes. We don’t have long, but a vote is due in parliament to seek to overturn the government’s plans. We’re asking UNISON members to write to their MP and call on them to raise this with the government before it’s too late. We can and must stop this dreadful attack on children living in poverty, by speaking together with one voice and demanding these plans are scrapped.