The Tories were WRONG: Universal Credit changes WILL mean 160,000 Children LOSE Free School Meals

In another chapter to the litany of errors, mistakes and dunderheadedness that has storied the implementation and augmentation of Universal Credit, the Tories were wrong about children’s school lunches. 

The normally notoriously pro-Tory thinktank, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has confirmed that the changes to Universal Credit implemented by the Tories will in fact cause 160,000 children who are currently eligible to lose out on a hot meal during the school day. 

The revelation comes after Tory MPs stood in Parliament and accused Labour MPs, in particular Angela Rayner, of fearmongering. The Tories had insisted that, in fact, the changes in Universal Credit wouldn’t affect one single child who receives school lunches currently.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, insisted:

“It took a “Channel 4 News” FactCheck to point out that no child who currently receives meals would lose their entitlement and that, in fact, some 50,000 more children would benefit under our proposals when compared with the previous system.​ I understand that it is the nature of the Opposition to oppose, but the scaremongering and misinformation from the Opposition has surely reached a new low”

Conservative MP, Michael Tomlinson, shouted:

“That brings me to free school meals. Children currently in receipt of free school meals will not lose out. In fact, 50,000 more children will benefit from free school meals than under the legacy benefits system. Free schools meals should be targeted at the most vulnerable.”

And Chris Philp, Tory MP, asked:

“Does the hon. Lady agree with Channel 4’s FactCheck, which says: “This is not a case of the government taking free school meals from a million children”. These are children who are not currently receiving free school meals, and in fact the Government’s proposals would see 50,000 extra children receive free school meals.”

Now, the IFS has showed the Tories to be, once again, either liars, completely incompetent, or complicit in intentionally focring through disgusting policies. 160,000 children who currently receive free school lunches will lose the privilege following Tory changes to Universal Credit. 

https://twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/981817476278308864

The implementation of the £7,400 earnings threshold will see one in eight children lose their school meal. 

Whilst the changes will in fact see 210,000 more children receive free school lunches, they will also mean that 160,000 who currently receive them, will lose them. 

What’s more, the children that the changes will be taking lunches from are those most in need of help. The change to the Universal Credit threshold will mean that assistance is taken away from families where neither parent is in work towards those where parents are working. 

As Schools Week reported:

“For example, the child of a lone parent working 12 hours a week for £12 an hour would previously have been entitled to free school meals because they could get maximum child tax credit. But the same child would not be eligible under the new system, because their parent’s income would be £7,488, which is above the new threshold.

At the same time, the child of a lone parent working 18 hours a week for the national minimum wage of £7.83 an hour would previously not have been able to claim free school meals because they would have been entitled to working tax credit. But that same child will gain eligibility under the new system because their parent’s earnings, at £7,329 a year, fall below the threshold.”

It may be easy to consider a net increase in the amount of children entitled to free school lunches as a good thing, and to look no further beyond the statistics. Though it must be remembered that each of those 160,000 losing their school meals is a child. That is, a child in need of nutrition, in need of the best opportunity the country can provide so that he or she can grow up healthy, able to get the most out of education, and then to contribute to their community and their wider society. 

Not only are the Tories taking that opportunity away, but they either lied or were ignorant as to the facts when it comes to the effects of their Universal Credit Changes.

The duty of Government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Once again, the Tories have shown themselves to fail in this duty. 

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