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Response to the Welsh Government’s Consultation on Eligibility for Free School Meals

September 18th 2018

The Bevan Foundation has submitted its response to the Welsh Government’s Consultation on Eligibility for Free School Meals

The Bevan Foundation’s response to the Welsh Government’s Consultation on Eligibility for Free School Meals sets out our strong opposition to the Welsh Government’s proposals to introduce an earned income threshold of £7,400 for Universal Credit claimants who want to claim free school meals for their children.

Under the Welsh Government’s proposals, 55,000 children living in relative income poverty will not be eligible for a free school meal. We are concerned that this means that families, living on low income, will not get the support they need, and that some children will miss out on getting a healthy, nutritious meal at lunch time, and on all the health and educational benefits associated with this.

In our response we argue that in the short term:

  • The Welsh Government should not introduce an earned income threshold for those in receipt of Universal Credit. This would mean that most of the 55,000 children, living in poverty, who are currently set to miss out, would be entitled to a free school meal.
  • If the Welsh Government does believe a cap needs to be introduced, there should not be a one size fits all cap. The system should be flexible enough to take into account different family circumstances and the effects of precarious employment.

With heightened awareness of the difficulties a number of parents face when providing food for their children during school holidays, and the well-publicised issues with ensuring the fair provision of free school breakfasts, we believe that the Welsh Government should undertake a broader review into child nutrition in Wales, to ensure that no child goes hungry. To this end, we believe that the Welsh Government should consider providing free school meals to all children as a medium term policy objective. As an interim measure, we argue that the Welsh Government should explore the possibility of providing free school meals to all children under year 2, a policy that is already in place in England and Scotland.

The response to the consultation questions is here – our supplementary paper with more detail can be downloaded here.

 

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