Free school meals to save over £400 a year per hild

Posted by Arron Dickens in Personal Finance on 20 September 2013 - Arron is a Product Manager at checkmyfile

Every infant school child will receive free school meals from September 2014, under plans announced by the coalition government on Wednesday. Only children whose parents are on low incomes are currently able to qualify for free school lunches. This extension of the scheme will increase the number of 5, 6 and 7 year old children eligible from 400,000 currently, to over 1.9 million.

The cost of offering this across the board will run to about £600 million a year, and has been strongly supported by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Indeed it would appear that a deal has been done within the coalition, with the Tories happy to introduce the school meal scheme, in exchange for the Lib Dem’s not blocking proposals for a marriage tax break.

Based on the average cost of school dinners, parents will save £437 a year for every child in Reception and Year 1 & 2 classes. The announcement is seen by Clegg as one of his most significant successes since entering the coalition partnership in 2010, and the deal is being used to highlight the different priorities of Cameron and Clegg, with the Deputy Prime Minister proclaiming, "The Conservatives have made it clear that their priority is to help some families over others, with a tax break for married couples – a tax break for some, funded through the taxes of others. That tells you everything you need to know about their values. We, however, will help all families in these tough times – not just the kind we like best – by helping their young children get the best possible start in life. And that tells you everything about ours."

The Lib Dem’s have confirmed that they would like to extend the plan to include all children in primary school education, if funding can be found at a later date. Research undertaken by the government last year found that children ate more healthily but that there were also significant improvements in academic achievement, for those children who were provided with free school meals.

Arron Dickens is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and is an Associate of the Institute of Credit Management. He can be contacted at arron.dickens@checkmyfile.com.

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