CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENCE


  • Free School Meals

    19 March 2018

    Dear Constituent

    Thank you for writing to me about Free School Meals for Children and the debate in the House of Commons on 13th March 2018.
     
    The proposed changes to the eligibility criteria have been designed to ensure that support is targeted where it is needed most, meaning that those on the lowest incomes remain the focus of Free School Meals.
     
    Labour are saying that we are taking away Free School Meals from children, this is just wrong.
     
          • No child will lose their meals during the rollout of Universal credit as a result of these changes.
     
          • Our plans mean an extra 50,000 children will be eligible for a nutritious meal at school by 2022. 
     
          • Labour’s claim that our changes could leave over a million children without this is deliberately misleading.
     
          • Since 2010, we have extended the availability for free school meals to disadvantaged students in further education and introduced universal infant free school meals.
     
    When Universal Credit was introduced, the Government were clear that they would set a new criteria for free school meals. To ensure that no one was adversely affected during its roll out, the Government temporarily made Universal Credit a qualifying benefit for Free School Meals, regardless of income. As was made clear at the time, this was always an interim measure.
     
    Labour’s plans to extend Free School Meals to everyone in receipt of Universal Credit – which include families with income of £40,000 a year – would deliver high additional costs that would be borne by ordinary families, through higher taxes and more borrowing.
     
    The Government’s approach will mean that:
     
          • If you receive a free school meal now – you will continue to do so until the end of the rollout of Universal Credit, planned for 2022, and then to the end of ether primary or secondary school (which ever you are in at this point).
     
              o For example a child in year 5 on a FSM now, who parent are on UC but have an income of £40,000, will continue to get a FSM until the end of secondary school.
     
          • If you receive a free school meal during the roll out of Universal Credit – you will continue to do so until the end of roll out of Universal Credit, planned for 2022, and then to the end of ether primary or secondary school (which ever you are in at this point).
     
              o For example a child who will start school in September 2020, who has a parent who at any time before the roll out of Universal Credit in 2022 has an income below the income threshold, will be eligible for a FSM until the end of primary school.
     
    I am committed to ensuring that disadvantaged, young people are able to access a free nutritious meal at school. Contrary to the misinformation peddled by the Labour Party, the Government is increasing the number of disadvantaged children who are eligible for this. Because of this I voted with the Government to extend the eligibility for Free School Meals. I hope that this explains the situation.
     
    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this issue.

    Yours sincerely



    Mel Stride

    MP for Central Devon

    Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General







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