Posted: 18 June 2013

Extend free school meals to all families on universal credit

New government figures show that there are around a quarter of a million more children living in poverty in working households than there were 15 years ago. 

The data also shows that the number of these children rose from 1.96 million in 1996-97 to 2.22 million children in 2011-12. 

The proportion has also increased. In 1996-97, fewer than half of children in poverty were in working families (44%), while in 2011-12 the number rose to nearly two-thirds (63%).

Free school meals and in-work poverty

This drastic rise could be reversed by making free school meals available to all children in poverty

Entitlement to these meals has a significant impact on family budgets and, as a result, on child poverty rates. The meals are worth around £370 per child each year, which is a significant drain on struggling families’ budgets.

By providing these families with support through free school meals, hard-pressed working parents could provide the basics for their children, including school shoes, and provide balanced, nutritious meals at home.

But because of the way eligibility is currently calculated, families often miss out on this vital support when parents move into work -- even when the amount they earn is not enough to pull their family out of poverty. 

Extend free school meals to all families on universal credit 

As many as 700,000 children in working families living in poverty are not entitled to get a free school meal, often simply because their parents work more than the allotted hours.

We have calculated that by extending entitlement to free school meals to all children in families receiving Universal Credit, a whopping 100,000 children would be lifted out of poverty in the UK.

Free school meals for all children in poverty – including those in working families – is a key part of making work pay and to tackling child poverty in working families.

By Sam Royston - Policy team

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This would be great if it happened it would also put my shopping bill down by £20 per week as my 3 children have packed lunch as i can not afford school dinners for all 3. That £20 could go to their clothing or school trips. So fingers crossed it will happen.

Hi Deedar,

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