The Hackney Liberal Democrats are calling for Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier MPs to strongly oppose plans to change eligibility for free school meals under Universal Credit reforms.
The Government wants to introduce a new earnings limit from 1 April 2018, so that any family on Universal Credit earning more than £7,400 a year won’t be eligible for free school meals.
The Children’s Society, a national charity that works with the country's most vulnerable children and young people, commented:
“For children from poorer families, the guarantee of a decent lunch each day can make a huge difference. Free school meals are intended to provide children with a proper meal when food may be tight at home. For some children this may be the only healthy cooked food they get - for others it can be their only meal of the day.
“This is a huge step backwards...it also fundamentally undermines one of the main reasons for introducing Universal Credit in the first place: to ensure that 'work always pays'.
“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.”
A tool provided on The Children’s Society website estimates that 4000 children in Hackney will miss out on free school meals under the proposed changes.
Hackney Liberal Democrat Vice Chair Darren Martin said:
“This is a new level of cruelty from a government that already sets that bar very high.
“It is so very important that all parties come together in Hackney to oppose these plans and make sure we do all we can to stop these changes.
“Diane Abbott and Meg Hillier are our voices in parliament and it is important that they make it clear to the Government that Hackney will fight these changes.
“I also urge everybody to sign the petition on childrenssociety.org.uk and add your voice to the campaign.”