More than 1,000 Hartlepool children could miss out on free school meals under Universal Credit plans
More than a thousand children living in poverty in Hartlepool will miss out on free school meals under universal credit proposals.
A study from The Children’s Society estimates that 2,900 schoolchildren in the town live in poverty and that 1,100 of these would end up missing out on free meals under the changes.
Families in receipt of universal credit have been automatically entitled to free meals.
But, the Government is planning to introduce means testing under universal credit, which would affect more than 38,000 children in poverty in the North East and will create a ‘cliff-edge’ where many families would be better off taking a pay cut.
The figures show that once a family with one child passes the £7,400 threshold, they would need to earn £1,124 a year more, to make up for the loss in free school meals.
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said: “The fact that over a quarter of children in Hartlepool are living in poverty is nothing short of a scandal and a damning indictment of the Government’s low wage, low economy austerity driven agenda.
“Worse still over 1,000 of them could have no access to free school meals, despite the obvious implications that has on their health and well-being together with the proven effects a nutritious meal has on their concentration and behaviour at school.
“Free school meals should be fully provided for by the Government and extended to all low income families, including those hit by the implementation of Universal Credit, which has replaced benefits previously used to assess entitlement to free school meals.”