Nia Griffith MP has called on the UK government to spell out which children will be entitled to free school meals when families who currently receive tax credits or benefits are moved onto the government’s flagship universal credit scheme. With the roll-out of universal credit starting later this year, there is still no detail about who will qualify for free school meals.
Speaking up in Parliament at Welsh Questions, Nia said,
“Disarray on universal credit means that children in Wales still do not know whether they will lose their free school meal entitlement. Furthermore, some families in Wales will be better off NOT seeking more work because they would have to earn an additional £1,500 per child to make up for the loss of school meals. So what is the Minister doing to safeguard free school meal entitlements for children in Wales? ”
Explaining the problem afterwards, Nia added, “Not only are families worried because they do not know what the government plans are, but the way that universal credit is structured means that there is a real cliff edge, and could mean that a family has to earn an extra £1,500 per year per child in order to make up for the loss of a year’s school meals valued at about £370 per child. This could mean that for some families, it simply will not be worth seeking a few hours extra work. This is precisely the trap that universal credit was supposed to avoid.”