Some of the poorest Burnley children could lose free school meals

Changes are being made to free school meals
Changes are being made to free school meals

Children from some of the poorest families in Burnley and Padiham could face losing free school meals under new Universal Credit plans.

Currently, all children who live in a household receiving Universal Credit receive a free school meal, but this is set to change from April with a threshold being introduced.

Julie Cooper MP

Julie Cooper MP

Under current proposals set out in a consultation by the Department for Education, this will change when an earnings threshold of £7,400 will be introduced for all new Universal Credit claimants.

Yet, according to analysis by The Children’s Society, these proposals will mean one million children living in poverty will miss out on the benefits of a free school meal and locally this will mean 22,936 in Lancashire missing out.

Burnley MP Julie Cooper has joined calls with The Children’s Society for the Government to rethink their plans around free school meals under Universal Credit, accusing the Tory party of being out of touch with the rest of the country.

Labour MP Mrs Cooper said: “The current proposals on the future of free school meals under Universal Credit are deeply concerning and show how this Government is out of touch with the importance to seriously address poverty levels across the country.

“These changes will affect many local families in Burnley and Padiham, especially the poorest in our society, and it is important the Government rethinks their approach.

“Ministers must hear the views of local people on this matter and how we should be alleviating poverty, not entrenching it.”

Angela Rayner MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said: “It should be a national scandal that children are going hungry at school, yet the Conservatives’ plans for Universal Credit could leave a million children living in poverty going without a meal in school.

“In collaboration with Debbie Abrahams, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Labour is committed to opposing these plans.

“It cannot possibly be fair or justified that so many children should lose out, and be made to struggle through the school day without a meal, which, for many children in poverty, could be the only meal they get that day.”