Expanding the provision of Free School Meals in Wales

ReportsResourcesMay 11th, 2021

New report looks at the cost of extending the eligibility criteria for Free School Meals and its impact on low income households

The pandemic has raised the profile of Free School Meals (FSM) as a political issue as never before. The arguments in favour of reform are long established. Too many children who are trapped in poverty are denied access to FSM due to arbitrary eligibility criteria. This means that children miss out on the health and educational benefits of a healthy meal, whilst already struggling families are placed under significant financial pressure.

Whilst there is broad political consensus that the FSM system is in need of reform, there have been concerns about the cost of expanding eligibility. The Bevan Foundation and the Wales Anti-Poverty Coalition have therefore commissioned Policy in Practice to undertake  an independent report to assess the financial cost to the Welsh Government of extending access to FSM and the savings for eligible households.

The report’s key findings include:

  • The cost of FSM to the Welsh Government under the current scenario is £38.9M per year.
  • If FSM were expanded to children of all households receiving Universal Credit this would increase the total cost by £10.5M per year, to £49.5M
  • Extending FSM eligibility to all households, irrespective of household income or benefit eligibility, would increase the cost to the Welsh Government by £140.7M per year, to a total of £179.6M.
  • The savings to newly eligible households, based on a CPI-adjusted value of £3.90 per meal, would be worth an average of £1,280.59 per year, or £764.30 per child per year. This would total £20.9M per year if all children living in households eligible for Universal Credit were eligible for FSM and take up their entitlement.

Report Format: PDF

Language: English

Pages: 34

Cost: Free



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