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Half of children in poverty not getting free school meals

December 29, 2008 12:00 AM

Many of the poorest children in Hinckley and Bosworth are not getting free school meals.

Research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that half of children living in poverty are not allowed free school meals. Parliamentary answers have shown that free meals are available to children whose parents are on a variety of benefits, but not to those who claim working tax credits.

The information shows that:

Families are paying over £300 on average per child, per year, for school meals

1.2m children living in poverty are not entitled to free meals

The criteria for eligibility was changed by the Conservatives in the 1980s to exclude working families

Commenting, Michael Mullaney Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Bosworth said: "It is outrageous that half of the poorest children are missing out on free school meals. "In Hinckley and Bosworth it's estimated that one in five children lives in a low income working family.

"For the most disadvantaged children, a school dinner can be the only hot meal they get.

"As times get tough, paying for school lunches is going to be a real struggle for more and more families.

"The Tories caused this problem in the 1980s when they changed the rules to deny free school meals to half a million children living in families who were working but on low incomes."