Friday, 16 March 2018

Your children are not going to lose their free school meals

Are you worried about losing free school meals? You probably don't need to be.

Labour are busy spreading the word that the evil Tories have voted to take food out of the mouths of a million poor children but actually that's not true. What they have done is vote to lower the amount you can earn and be able to claim free school meals in the future.

No child that currently gets free school meals is going to lose them under this change unless your circumstances change and you're no longer eligible under current rules. If you apply for a child at some point in the future (I'm not sure when the change comes into effect) then you will be assessed on the new rules.

So what can you earn in future? £7,400 per year. That doesn't sound like a lot but with the benefits you will be entitled to on that income that becomes about £24k a year which is about £2,300 more than the average salary in Telford.

Where did the million children figure come from? Well, not from research by the Labour Party. It is, in fact, an estimate by the Guardian newspaper!

The cost of providing free school meals to all primary school children in England is estimated at about £800m per year. On top of that the British government would have to give Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland an extra £150m between them because they get a share of any money spent in England (but not the other way round of course). So it would cost £950m a year in total to give all primary school children free school meals. Or to put that into perspective, the amount of foreign aid we give to Nigeria and Pakistan which are the 21st and 24th largest economies in the world according to the World Bank.

Cutting the number of children eligible for free school meals is a bit of a crappy thing to do when the cost of living is rising faster than wages but it isn't depriving anyone of what they get now and you need a pretty decent income by Telford's standards to hit the cap.

John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist in the 1948 film

If you do find yourself struggling for food because of this rule change or for any other reason then you can contact Telford Crisis Network who can help you with the food bank and point you in the direction of people who can help you sort out your finances. If you have already been to the food bank and reached your self-referral limit and are still struggling then get in touch with me and I can make a referral.