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Disappointing that Sarah Wollaston MP votes to deny free school meals to more than a million children.

April 9, 2018 5:00 PM

Caroline Voaden with Vince CableI was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that Sarah Wollaston MP voted together with all MPs from her party to ensure that more than 1 million children will be denied free school meals when they come under Universal Credit.

As a former GP Ms Wollaston must know the value to children of good nutrition and must surely understand the evidence that shows children learn more effectively and perform better at school when they've had a decent meal.

While it is true that no children will actually lose the free school meals they are already entitled to, families on Universal Credit who are earning more than £7,400 a year won't be eligible under the new rules. Which leaves 1.1 million children in poverty who could benefit but now won't, according to research from The Children's Society.

"The new rules will create a situation in the future where many working families will be punished for taking on extra hours or accepting a pay rise because they would have their free school meals taken away. These are worth around £400 a year per child - a huge sum if you're on a low income," said the Children's Society.

I am proud that every Liberal Democrat MP present signed the motion, brought by Labour, which stated that "this House believes that it is unacceptable for any child to be going hungry at school; calls on the Government to reconsider these proposals and continue to provide free school meals for all universal credit claimants and ensure that no child goes hungry at school through no fault of their own."

The motion was supported by Lib Dem MPs Layla Moran and Stephen Lloyd and voted for by 11 out of 12 of our MPs.

The Lib Dem policy of free school meals for all children in Key Stage 1 was introduced in September 2014, during the Coalition government.

Yours sincerely
Caroline Voaden
Lib Dem PPC for Totnes Constituency