Universal Free School Meals Under Threat In Government Spending Review
It's just a few days ago that we wrote about the government plans to slash Tax Credit payments for both working and stay at home parents, and yet today brings more news reports about plans that could hit family budgets further.
It has been reported in several news sources today that The Chancellor George Osbourne's November spending review could see the Free School Meal Scheme for all infant school children scrapped.
The Universal Free School Meal policy provides lunchtime meals for all pupils in Key Stage 1, and is thought to save families around £400 per child per year. It was introduced by the coalition government and was included in the Conservative Manifesto at the General Election in May this year. It also required a lot of investment and changes for the upgrading and building of school kitchens to provide the school meals.
As there are several sources reporting that the Free School Meal scheme is under threat the National Association of Head Teachers is looking for reassurance that the funding will continue.
Although the Department for Education has most of its £54 billion budget ring-fenced, about £14 billion spent on early years education, teacher training, colleges and free school meals is not protected. The Education Secretary has to offer two proposals for the November spending review where finding for these unprotected areas would be cut by 25% and 40%.
The Department of Education refuses to rule out scrapping the Universal Infant Free School Meals scheme which currently costs £800 million a year.
What are your thoughts on the threat to school meals? Do you agrees with the commentator who says that giving meals free "regardless of parental wealth" does not offer "value for money" for the government? Or do you agree with Jamie Oliver who says it would be "a disaster" to scrap them, and the Head Teachers who want to keep them "after all the money and time invested"?
Let us know what you think about the threat to free school meals in the comment below, or over on our Facebook page.
Source: Sky News, Images: The Independent
TOPICS: News and Recalls