Government responds *NO* to a very important question

On Monday there was a very important question that was raised by Caroline Lucas who is the Brighton Pavilion MP. It was directed to the Department for Education. The question was responded by a new Minister for Education who is Kelly Tolhurst, the MP for Rochester and Strood. I am very happy that in the past Kelly Tolhurst responded to several of the Early Day Motions as this is a response that sadly several MPs including Liz Truss refuse to engage with. Indeed Truss is the first Prime Minister to refuse to engage with the EDMs. However despite this positive involvement from Tolhurst in her role as an MP, her response as a Minister has clearly failed to respond positively to call from Lucas which is a call for assistance for many families in our Nation. The question from Lucas is as follows

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to provide free school meals to every child up to the age of 16 in state education; and if he will make a statement.

Now the actual answer from Tolhurst is very long but it is in effect a response that is equivalent to


The actual response is supplied lower down this document, however it is very interesting that one of the EDMs that Kelly Tolhurst responded to was authored by Frank Field and it was entitled FREE SCHOOL MEAL REGISTRATION in January 2016. Along with the author there were five other MPs who endorsed it before it became public, one was Caroline Lucas and another was Nicholas Soames who was the Conservative MP for Mid Sussex at that time. The other people who endorsed this EDM included Kelly Tolhurst and Peter Bottomley from Worthing West. Here is the statement.

That this House regrets that there are hungry children in this country who are entitled, but not registered, to receive free school meals; notes that, as a consequence of this under-registration, their schools miss out on Pupil Premium funding which is tied to free school meal registration; calls on the Government to provide local authorities with the duties and powers required to identify and automatically register all children eligible for free school meals, and to provide for an opt-out where the family wishes; and supports the Ten Minute Rule Bill introduced to achieve this end.

So now that we know what Kelly Tolhurst signed in 2016, here is what she stated on Monday which is in essence a very long response that is very clearly No

Under benefits-related criteria, the department provides a free, healthy meal to around 1.9 million children, ensuring they are well-nourished and can concentrate, learn, and achieve in the classroom.

This government has extended eligibility for FSM several times and to more groups of children. This includes the introduction of universal infant FSM, and further education free meals.

In addition to this, the temporary extension of FSM eligibility to some groups with no recourse to public funds that had been in place since 2020 was extended to all groups and made permanent from Easter this year, subject to income thresholds.

The department thinks it is right that provision is aimed at supporting the most disadvantaged, those out of work, or on the lowest incomes. We do not have any plans to extend universal provision, but the department will continue to keep FSM eligibility under review, to ensure that these meals are supporting those who most need them.

The government is continuing to provide targeted cost of living support for households most in need. Through the Household Support Fund, the government is providing an additional £500 million to help households with the cost of household essentials, on top of what has been provided since October 2021. This brings the total funding for this support to £1.5 billion. This helps those in most need with payments towards the rising cost of food, energy, and water.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Parliament and Democracy, Youth Issues and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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