On 14th March 2018, Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the effect on Universal Credit work incentives of the recently announced proposals for passporting family entitlement to free school meals.” The Lord Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, we have years of clear evidence that tackling child hunger improves outcomes at school and improves achievement and social mobility. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of these proposals on child hunger and on our investment in our children’s futures?
Baroness Buscombe: I thank the right reverend Prelate for her question. That is why we have chosen not to monetise free school meals; if we did, the benefits of a hot meal in the middle of the day could be lost for 1.1 million of the poorest children. That is because there would be a risk of children not getting the free school meal if it were just added to the rates for UC. We believe that the nutritional needs of children should be paramount. We therefore think it is right that free school meals should continue to be provided in the way we propose.