Free School Meals: Universal Credit

Department for Education written question – answered on 23 March 2023.

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Photo of The Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham Bishop

To ask His Majesty's Government how many children are in receipt of Universal Credit but are not eligible for free school meals.

Photo of The Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham Bishop

To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the earnings threshold for those eligible for free school meals given the increased cost of living.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Since 2010, the number of children receiving a free meal at school has increased by more than two million. This is thanks to the introduction of universal infant free school meals, alongside protections put in place as benefit recipients move across to Universal Credit. Over a third of pupils in England now receive Free School Meals (FSM) in education, compared with one in six in 2010.

The department believes that the current eligibility threshold level, which enables children in low-income households to benefit from FSM, while remaining affordable and deliverable for schools, is the right one. The department does not have plans to change the current eligibility conditions for FSM, but we will continue to keep eligibility under review to ensure that these meals are supporting those who need them most. The department continues to monitor the consequences of the rising cost of living and is working with other government departments to provide support to disadvantaged families.

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