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Poor pupils across Bradford district missing out on free meal
Almost 10,000 children living in poverty across Bradford are missing out on free school meals, a leading children’s charity revealed today.
The Children’s Society says 3,500 are missing out in Bradford East, 3,400 in Bradford West, 1,500 in Bradford South and 1,500 in Keighley.
The charity is now calling on people to contact their MPs to put pressure on the Government to make free school meals available to all children living under the breadline after families have paid housing costs.
Bradford East Liberal Democrat MP David Ward said it is imperative that residents, parents and schools lobby the Government to make the change.
Mr Ward said: “It’s a double-whammy really. A child who gets free school meals is guaranteed nourishment to help them learn better at school and the school gets a pupil premium for every child on free school meals to help educate that child.”
The charity said its study showed a free school lunch may be the only proper meal some children get as parents are often left struggling to provide basics like shoes and heating the home.
Chief executive Matthew Reed said many low-income families were unable to get free school meals simply because their parents were working – no matter how little they earn.
He said: “We know from the families we work with up and down the country that parents are struggling to make ends meet. Right now, the Government is reconsidering which children will be entitled to get free school meals. We urge the Government to take this opportunity to make sure all children in poverty can get a free school meal.”
The charity has already gathered more than 90,000 signatures in support of its Fair and Square campaign and estimates nationally every day more than half of the 2.2 million school children living in poverty in England miss out on a free school meal – of those, 700,000 are not even entitled to one.
Families who might get free school meals include those on Income Support, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, an income-related employment and support allowance, support under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the guarantee element of State Pension Credit and also Child Tax Credit – provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income not over £16,190 According to the report, Sheffield has the highest proportion of children missing out on free school meals, followed by Grimsby, Wakefield and Keighley. Bradford West comes ninth out of 54 Yorkshire and Humber constituencies.
To find out more about the campaign, go to childrenssociety.org.uk/fairandsquare.