Burnley’s MP has welcomed plans to provide free school meals for all infant school children.
The scheme was announced by party leader Nick Clegg at Liberal Democrats’ conference and will start from next September.
Gordon Birtwistle said: “This is excellent news which will be welcomed by families across Burnley. Ensuring that all children get a hot, healthy lunch will improve standards in our schools and ensure that no children miss out.”
It is estimated that the plan will save parents who currently pay for school meals around £400 per child, per year. A report for the Department of Education concluded that giving all children free lunches would raise academic standards.
The MP continued: “Recent reports show that between 5% and 10% of children in Lancashire who were entitled to free school meals were not applying for them.
“This will help end that problem as well as ending the problems of stigmatisation that children on free school meals sometimes face.”
The plans have also been praised by the Children’s Society which said: “The announcement making free school meals available to 1.4 million more children marks an historic step forward in the fight against child poverty.
“This latest move clearly shows that the Government is recognising the hardship that thousands of families are facing.
“This will lead to 200,000 more poor children being given the chance to get a free, nutritious meal at school.”