Feed the Future: Jeremy Hunt ignores pleas to expand free school meals

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Jeremy Hunt’s failure to support more children with free school meals in his autumn statement has been branded “short-sighted” by charities and campaigners.

independent Feed the Future campaign, in partnership with a coalition of campaigning organizations coordinated by the Food Foundation, is calling on the government to provide free school meals to all children in poverty in England.

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Currently, 800,000 children live in homes on Universal Credit but miss out on free school meals because their parents earn more than £7,400 a year excluding benefits.

The chancellor revealed a range of measures in her spending plan to help Britain weather its economic “storm” – including tax increases and pressure on public spending.

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But changes to the free school meals scheme – which provides free lunches to the most disadvantaged in society – were absent from his plans.

The Feed the Future coalition of charities said the chancellor had ignored pleas from the education sector, health professionals, supermarket owners and MPs to extend the scheme.

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They have also ignored the voices of affected children, many of whom face shame and anxiety at school without food,” the statement said.

The Coalition said: “It is short-sighted for the Chancellor to ignore policy intervention which is the expert analysis has shown that the economy will be boosted by at least £8.9 billion over the next 20 years, improving health, educational attainment and workforce productivity.

Barbara Crowther from the Children’s Food Campaign said the UK government “plays Scrooge” while others are “boosting children’s health and educational success” through school meals. Wales has given free meals at school to all primary school children since September, while Scotland provides them for most of the primary school years, with promises to extend it.

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The Children’s Society’s Mark Russell welcomed the help in Mr Hunt’s Autumn Statement, such as a one-off payment to support people on the benefits of energy bills and the expansion of the Household Support Fund, which councils use to support vulnerable residents . But he added: “They are still temporarily sticking plasters on much bigger issues.”

The charity’s chief executive said: “We need long-term solutions such as increased child benefit payments, feeding more children through free school meals, and long-term funding for local crisis support.”

The chancellor said in an autumn statement she would help the most vulnerable people with the cost of living crisis through a range of measures, including increasing disability and working-age benefits in line with inflation and giving vulnerable families living expenses next year. Including providing additional cost of payment. ,

He also said that the Energy Price Guarantee, which caps the unit price of energy, would continue for another 12 months from April – albeit at a higher level of £3,000 a year, compared to £2,500. “With prices projected to rise over the next year, this would still mean an average of £500 support for every household in the country,” Mr Hunt said.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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