Agenda item



On a motion from Councillor Alison Millar, seconded by Councillor Dine Romero, it was




Council notes:


·  That, during the transition of benefit claimants onto Universal Credit, the Government temporarily relaxed the criteria for free school meals by making Universal Credit a qualifying benefit for free school meals, regardless of income.


·  That the Coalition Government made clear in 2013 that this would be an interim measure during the roll-out of Universal Credit, and that some form of means or eligibility test would need to be introduced once Universal Credit was fully rolled out.


·  That these transitional protections will mean that nobody currently receiving free school meals will lose their entitlement when moving onto Universal Credit, and once the full roll out of universal credit is complete (2022) pupils will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education.


·  That under the new criteria, those earning more than £7,400 a year from work will no longer be eligible for free school meals, equivalent to an annual income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account. These proposals will affect free school meals for children in year 3 and above. Transitional protections will ensure that no child currently receiving free school meals will have them taken away.


·  That under the new criteria, around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal by 2022 than under the previous benefits system introduced by Labour – and that the new eligibility criteria will only apply to new UC claimants, not those already receiving free meals.

·  That all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will continue to receive free school meals.


·  It is estimated that, nationally, only about 65 per cent of children who are eligible for free school meals take them up, often because parents do not realise their children are entitled, and therefore more could be done, at both the local and national level, to ensure that all those eligible for Free School Meals are aware of their entitlement.


·  B&NES Council is currently encouraging local Universal Credit recipients to sign up for free school meals and promoting the additional Pupil Premium funding that schools receive, and that as a full UC area since May 2016, more children within B&NES will be protected by the transitional arrangements than in authorities that are still to move into full Universal credit service.


Council resolves:


·  Council calls on the Government to work with schools, academies and local authorities to raise awareness of families’ eligibility for Free School Meals and encourages all those entitled to Free School Meals to take them up.


·  Council requests that the Leader of Council communicate this position and the above motion to the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, relevant Ministers and local MPs.



1.  The above resolution was proposed by Councillor Michael Evans and accepted into the substantive motion by Councillor Alison Millar.


2.  The resolution was carried with 48 Councillors voting favour, 7 Councillors voting against and no abstentions.]

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