The Bishop of Gloucester received the following written answer on 11th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester asked Her Majesty’s Government what recent estimate they have made of the number of children in England who are eligible for income-related free school meals but are not registered for the scheme.
Baroness Barran (Con): The department does not routinely collect information on the proportion of pupils that would be entitled to a free school meal but do not make a claim. Our last estimate is that take-up is around 89% of those who are entitled.
Whilst take-up of free school meals is strong, the department wants to make sure as many eligible pupils as possible are claiming their free school meals, and to make it as simple as possible for schools and local authorities to determine eligibility. To support this, we provide an Eligibility Checking System to make the checking process as quick and straightforward as possible for schools and local authorities. We have also developed a model registration form to help schools encourage parents to sign up for free school meals and provide guidance to Jobcentre Plus advisers so that they can make Universal Credit recipients aware that they may also be entitled to wider benefits, including free school meals.