At the moment, all children in all households that have been switched to universal credit also qualify for free school meals.

But that’s all set to change after Tory and DUP MPs voted for controversial cuts to free school meals in England – although Northern Ireland is protected from the changes.

This means that English families on universal credit with an income of more than £7,400 will no longer be able to claim free school meals for their children, with charities claiming that up to a million children will lose out.  In Northern Ireland, the threshold will remain at almost double that (£14,000).

The Children’s Society and the Resolution Foundation think tank have both warned that because of the way that universal credit is calculated, parents will face a ‘cliff edge’ where they lose out if they earn a penny over the £7,400 threshold – those with one child will have to earn an extra £1,100 a year to cover the cost of school meals.

The Children’s Society said the “huge step backwards” means that “one million children in poverty who could benefit now won’t”.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner accused the government of “pulling the rug” from under poor families.


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