Over the last week a number of people have contacted me regarding free school meals following a recent vote in the House of Commons.
I want to clarify this issue and make it clear that not a single child will have their free school meal taken away as a result of this recent vote. In fact, the vote means that more than 50,000 more children will become eligible for them.
In the past year there has been a large amount of misinformation published in the news and online regarding numerous issues, not least this one. Unfortunately this misinformation tends to be politically motivated.
Back in November, there was a public outcry about the issue of animal sentience, when people were wrongly led to believe MPs had voted against animals having protections and that they cannot feel pain. In that case MPs voted against an amendment in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill because there is better protection of the welfare of animals under our own laws rather than the EU protocols currently in place. However, this incorrect information, like that about free school meals, was widely repeated.
I think it’s a great shame that this kind of ‘fake news’ is happening so often and leading to unnecessary distress for those people affected.
In the case of free school meals, many people who have seen this story in the news have wrongly assumed their child will lose their meal, when that is not going to happen.
I was really pleased to see this issue was highlighted by Channel 4 fact checker, who have carried out an independent assessment of this vote and concluded that “no one who is currently eligible for free school meals under Universal Credit will lose their entitlement. In fact, under Universal Credit, 50,000 more children will receive school meals by 2022 than would have done under the previous benefits system.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can visit: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-labour-arent-telling-the-full-story-about-free-school-meals
In other areas of this policy, children in England who are in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will continue to get their free school meals and this week the Government has pledged to put a further £26m into school breakfast clubs.
Free school meals are vital to many families and I hope people feel reassured that children will not be losing out.