Angela Rayner slams government as GMB reveals 2.6 million children will lose free school meals

A freedom of information request by the GMB has revealed unpublished government figures showing that 2.6 million children in England will go without school meals by 2022.

It is a shocking indictment of Tory policy, and far exceeds even the most of pessimistic predictions of the Children’s Society, who had estimated that 1 million children in poverty would go without free school meals.

It raises serious questions about accountability that the documents were not immediately put in the public domain by the government. Without the GMB, they would never have come to light.

Tim Roache, the union’s general secretary, did not mince his words:

“This policy is cruel, heartless and needless. I can't believe there's even a debate about whether kids should go hungry or not.

“In blunt and stark terms, this policy is taking food from the mouths of millions of children from poorer backgrounds.

The estimate predicts what would happen if all those children in households on Universal Credit received free schools, according to the criteria set out temporarily by the Government during the programme’s error-plagued rollout.

Speaking to GMB’s Public Services conference in Brighton, Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will slam the government for their dereliction of duty:

“This is the latest sign that the Tories simply haven’t been open with the people who will miss out under their plans.

“Ministers said time and time again that no one would lose a meal, only for the IFS to reveal that one in eight children who were eligible will be stripped of their entitlement under the Universal Credit.

“Now it appears that there would be millions more who could have had a meal but will be denied.

“Even now, the Government refuses to release their own calculations in full. Their claims on school funding have collapsed and now their story on school meals is falling apart.

“It is time they thought again about plans that would affect so many children and listened to Labour’s call for universal free school meals for all primary pupils.”

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