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MP CHALLENGES MINISTER OVER REVELATIONS THAT STRUGGLING SCHOOLS ARE BEING LEFT TO FILL FREE SCHOOL MEALS FUNDING GAP

June 20, 2022 2:35 PM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today spoken out about the government's mismanagement of the free school meals as most of the bill is currently falling on the shoulders of schools in rural communities.

The government payments to schools to provide these meals is not covering the actual cost of them, especially in the wake of the cost-of-living crisis and recent inflation rises. This means that schools are having to dip into their already limited budgets to cover the cost of delivering these essential meals to pupils.

This is costing some schools thousands of pounds over the course of an academic year and has the biggest impact on those smaller schools in rural areas where cost of supply is already higher than most. The risk that this creates is that more and more schools will be running into a deficit and must source the money from elsewhere in their budget, potentially leading to job losses and certainly restricting other essential school services as a result.

After speaking to local schools, Tim said this morning: "This is another example of mismanagement from the Conservative government. These meals are essential and a wonderful thing that I fully support.

"However, we need to be supporting our education system so we can continue to provide these meals. It is an absolute disgrace that the government has let this fall by the wayside - they need to be covering the full cost.

"The worst thing that could happen now to children - when they have already experienced so much chaos in the last two years - is for them to have other services restricted because of the government's failure to fund their own policies!

"Universal free school meals is a hugely positive initiative - I am proud that the Liberal Democrats introduced this policy when we were in government, but it's not right that this government should expect cash-strapped local schools to foot the bill."