Today, I have welcomed the announcement made by Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party and Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education that the next Labour Government will provide free school meals for all primary school children, a change that could benefit 50,953 children in Lancashire. The policy will be funded by introducing VAT on private school fees.
Research by the National Centre for Social Research and the Institute for Fiscal Studies has indicated offering universal access to free school meals improves educational attainment through improvements in pupils’ productivity, enabling primary school pupils to advance by around two months on average.
The provision of free school meals also has been proven to improve the health of pupils through better nutrition - with over 90 percent of pupils eating a school lunch consuming food or drink containing vegetables or fruit (including fruit juice) compared with only 58 percent of pupils who eat packed lunches.
I have been contacted by numerous teachers and parents in recent week expressing their concerns about this Government freezing per-pupil funding while inflation and costs increase. There are understandable concerns that this will lead to poorer quality, less healthy school meals. The Tories are short-changing our children.
Labour’s policy to extend free school meals demonstrates there is an alternative. We need to invest in our education system and this policy will ensure that an extra 50,593 children in Lancashire will get a healthy meal at school from Monday to Friday. Giving children the best chance to succeed at school is good for both children locally and our country’s future.
To add your support for free school meals for all primary school children here