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Government response: free school meals debate

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Today (Tuesday 13 March) there was a debate on four sets of regulations relating to Universal Credit (UC) following the spring budget statement in the House of Commons. This included debates on our proposals for future support for disadvantaged children in education under UC, including eligibility for free school meals and the Early Years Pupil Premium and our 15 hours of free childcare for two-year-olds.

The government won the vote and, contrary to misleading statements from the opposition, this will mean that 50,000 more children receive a free school meal by 2022 and 7,000 more two year olds will benefit from 15 hours of childcare by 2023, compared to the previous system.

It is right that we continue to support the most disadvantaged children and our changes will mean that no child who is currently receiving a free school meal will lose out.

This is on top of the government’s wider support for the most disadvantaged, including our recently announced pilots to provide meals and activities for disadvantaged children in the holidays, the £2.5billion funding provided to schools through the Pupil Premium to support their education and providing free school meals to 1.1 million children.

A Government spokesperson said:

This result means that around 50,000 more children will benefit from free school meals by 2022,. It's right that we continue to support the most disadvantaged children and our changes – which we consulted on – will mean that all children currently receiving a free meal will continue to do so.

This government will be spending more than any previous government on childcare, and millions of families will get the support they need


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