Free School Meals Vote

The Labour Party claim that I voted to remove free school meals (FSMs) from one million of our poorest children is scaremongering of the worst sort, as Channel 4 has shown (see below).

In fact no child will lose a meal at their school during the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) as a result of these changes. Our plans actually mean that an estimated 50,000 MORE children will be eligible for school meals by 2022. And since 2010 we have already increased the availability for free school meals to disadvantaged students in further education and introduced universal infant free school meals.

So what’s really happening? Universal Credit brings seven payments into one, and aims to more effectively taper these payments so that you can work more hours without being cut off. However, this impacts the current criteria for eligibility for free school meals, so the government temporarily made Universal Credit a qualifying benefit for FSM, regardless of income while it looked at this in more detail.

This was always an interim measure, which Labour have used to calculate their false claim. Channel 4 has independently checked this out here: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-labour-arent-telling-the-full-story-about-free-school-meals

Some families on UC can have an income of £40,000 a year or more, so we’ve now set an income threshold, which will still protect the poorest and most vulnerable children in our schools. And in the meantime regardless of your income, if you are no longer eligible after UC has been fully rolled out your child will still get FSMs throughout their current stage of education (e.g. primary or secondary).

It’s very important that parents on UC don’t get scared into worrying about this, or UC itself. If you have an issue on UC, or any benefit, then please get in touch with me so I can help (on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk).

Last October I listened to Jeremy Corbyn tell the country at Prime Minister’s Questions that 1 in 8 Gloucester City Homes (or 560 households) had been evicted as a result of Universal Credit. The actual figure was 8, one of whom moved abroad, and none of whom was directly connected to UC. I am still waiting for an apology from Mr Corbyn.

This time the scaremongering is intended to frighten parents into voting Labour at local elections this year. Households who are struggling can be easily frightened about evictions or free school meals, and so it’s important to share the facts.