Milton Keynes children could lose free school meals after benefit changes

Labour parliamentary candidates have slammed Milton Keynes MP's after they voted in favour of reduced free school meals for the poorest children in the city.

Thursday, 15th March 2018, 10:44 am
Updated Thursday, 15th March 2018, 11:45 am

Mark Lancaster MP and Iain Stewart MP supported government proposals to reduce the eligibility for free school meals, say Charlynne Pullen and Hannah O’Neill.

They say the vote means a new income threshold will be applied to families receiving universal credit. As a result some families could be stuck in a poverty trap and forced to reduce their hours of work or refuse pay rises.

“This will put an incredible strain on families who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Charlynne and Hannah.

“Our MPs have put their party before the poorest families in MK,” they added.

The vote will also affect eligibility for free childcare for families on low incomes.

Mark and Iain, however, have accused the two candidates of “scaremongering” and say the government has confirmed that nobody currently receiving free school meals will lose their entitlement when moving onto Universal Credit.

“It is right that we must continue to offer the most disadvantaged young people additional help and as the local MPs that is what we will always fight for,” the MPs told the Citizen.

“The suggestion that 5,400 children will lose out on free school meals is scaremongering. It is based on a hypothetical situation where all families in receipt of Universal Credit receive free school meals, which was never the intention.”

To qualify for free meals ,the government intends to introduce a net earnings threshold of £7,400 (£18,000 to £24,000 a year including benefits).

Labour estimates that a million school children nationally – largely in working families – will be affected by the government’s plan.

But Mark and Iain claim say over the next five years 50,000 MORE children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system.