Council urge for simplified free school meals process

More than a million additional school children could receive free school meals and be entitled to extra support funding if the sign-up process for the scheme was simplified and extended to more families.

The Local Government Association has argued that automatic enrolment for free school meals should be introduced and eligibility expanded to include all children who meet the income criteria, regardless of their parents’ circumstances.

The government’s soon-to-be published food strategy white paper will contain a range of new proposals on tackling inequalities in access to healthy food and improving the environmental and public health impact of our national food supply.

Automatic enrolling of school children who are eligible for free school meals and expanding its criteria were among the recommendations in the National Food Strategy, which the LGA is calling on the government to include in the upcoming white paper.

In addition to this, council leaders suggest the government review the current £7,400 income threshold for free school meals, which has remained unchanged since its introduction in 2018, in order to reach more children who are on the cusp of experiencing food poverty as household budgets are squeezed by rising prices and inflation. A further 1.1 million children could benefit from free school meals if the income threshold is changed and immigration limitations on who is eligible are lifted on a permanent basis.

Shaun Davies, chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “Rising food, fuel and other costs affect everybody, but particularly low-income households with children who rely on extra support to make ends meet. Given these pressures, it is absolutely essential that all those who are eligible can get the help they need, including access to free school meals, at a time when we know the price of food and the general cost of living are spiralling.

“Streamlining and removing the red tape in the applications process, so that councils get given the information they need, is vital if we are to ensure no child misses out on a healthy meal. The government should also urgently look to raise the earnings threshold and permanently extend the criteria to those who are currently not eligible due to immigration status, including undocumented parents and those who are not able to access public funds, so that no child goes hungry.”

Event Diary

Join the digital, data and technology community at DigiGov Expo – where public sector experts and innovators gain knowledge to transform government services.

Futurebuild, the built environment’s most influential event for innovation and collaboration is back for its 18th year, taking place at London’s ExCeL from March 5 – 7 2024. The event, which is set to be the most impactful yet, will continue its mission in taking a stand for a better built environment, showcasing groundbreaking ideas, creative and inspirational innovations and crucial collaboration to help us set the stage for a greener, more resilient future.

Register Now

In a world where communication technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, staying ahead of the curve is crucial for both personal and professional growth. The Communication Technology Expo, scheduled for the 13th and 14th of March 2024, promises to be a pivotal event for anyone seeking to explore the cutting-edge advancements in the field. From networking opportunities to hands-on demonstrations and thought-provoking discussions, here's why you should mark your calendar for this immersive experience.

Innovative Exhibitors and Demonstrations: