To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made of the number of children whose parents are in receipt of Universal Credit who do not receive a free school meal.
19 November 2021
The department supports over 1.7 million pupils from the lowest income families to concentrate, learn, and achieve in the classroom through the provision of free school meals. An additional 1.3 million infants receive a free meal under the Universal Infant Free School Meals policy.
In 2018, the government introduced new eligibility criteria for families on Universal Credit, following a consultation in 2017. It was estimated that this will be more generous in its reach by 2022, in comparison to the legacy benefit system. Further to this, we included generous protections which mean any family eligible for free school meals transitioning to Universal Credit from a legacy benefit will continue to have access to free school meals even if they move above the earnings threshold.
The government will fully consider the recommendations of the National Food Strategy, which included recommendations around free school meal eligibility, and will respond in due course.