Free School Meals – Broxtowe Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate Greg Marshall’s letter to Anna Soubry MP
Tory MP Anna Soubry urged by Labour to vote against her Government’s plans to leave 17,000 of Nottinghamshire’s poorest children without a free school meal
Greg Marshall, Labour’s candidate for Broxtowe in the next general election, has written to Anna Soubry urging her to put Nottinghamshire’s poorest children before Party loyalty next week, by voting against a Government plan to impose an income threshold on families currently receiving universal credit.
The policy, which the Government sought to sneak through without a vote, will mean over 17,000 of Nottinghamshire’s children, many growing up in poverty, will not be able to access a free school meal, according to the Children’s Society. The charity estimates it could affect over a million children across the country.
For some children, this could literally mean the difference between eating a hot meal that day, or going hungry.
As part of the same measure, the government is also planning to remove free childcare from those earning above the threshold.
For those Nottinghamshire families that are affected, the income threshold will create a cliff-edge, meaning some parents could be better off either reducing their hours, or not taking additional hours or pay rises, because moving just above the income threshold would leave them hundreds of pounds worse off for each child affected. This directly undermines the Government’s stated aim of Universal Credit, to make work pay.
The Government’s plans to restrict free school meals and free childcare will be brought to the Commons next week, following an intervention from Labour to bring these heartless and short sighted plans to a binding vote.
Greg Marshall, Labour’s candidate for Broxtowe in the next general election, has written to Anna Soubry, calling on her to vote the plans down.
Speaking about the Government plans, Greg said:
“The Tories are trying to leave over a million children without access to free school meals, that’s potentially 17,000 in our area alone.
“If Anna Soubry votes to literally take hot dinners away from the children of her constituents, I don’t know how she will be able to hold her head high in our constituency”.
“The vote on Tuesday gives her an opportunity to show just whose side she is on; the poorest children in her constituency, or this Tory government imposing heartless cuts on low income families.
“I have written to Anna asking her to consider her priorities on Tuesday.”
For more information please contact:
Labour Candidate for Broxtowe
1. Full copy of Greg Marshall’s letter to Anna Soubry MP is below:
I am writing to ask you to put the needs of some of your poorest constituents ahead of the interests of the Conservative Party on Tuesday (13th March) by voting down your Government’s plans to impose a limit on those families eligible for free school meals.
Over 17,000 of Nottinghamshire’s families need you to vote against these short sighted plans to ensure their children have a guaranteed meal whilst at school. For some of the poorest children that you represent, this is literally about whether they will go hungry or not.
The Children’s Society estimates that voting for this measure could affect over a million children across the country.
Imposing an income threshold on families currently receiving universal credit will not only potentially leave children without a hot meal, but the policy will create a cliff-edge, meaning some local parents could be better off either reducing their hours, or not taking additional hours or pay rises, because moving just above the income threshold would leave them hundreds of pounds worse off for each child affected. This directly undermines your Government’s stated aim of Universal Credit, to make work pay. As does the additional proposed measure that would leave thousands of parents on low incomes unable to access free childcare.
At a time when childcare costs are rising and wages are falling in real terms, this will put an incredible strain on families who are struggling to make ends meet. If this measure goes ahead then working families in our region could be up to £540 worse off.
I welcome that the Labour frontbench have been able to ensure these heartless plans will be brought to a binding vote. But now I ask you to play your part in protecting free school meals for the children in Nottinghamshire that need them most, and the security of free childcare for parents able to work.
Given the public interest in this issue I am releasing this letter to the media.
I will look forward to your reply.
Labour’s candidate for Broxtowe in the next general election
2. The Government have announced a debate and vote on the floor of the House of Commons, on the Free School Lunches and Milk and School and Early Years Finance (Amendments Relating to Universal Credit) (England) Regulations and the Local Authority (Duty to Secure Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Amendment) Regulations. The Regulations limit the eligibility of children in families receiving Universal Credit for receiving Free School Meals and free childcare for 2 year-olds.
3. The Children’s Society have estimated that over a million children in poverty will not be eligible for free school meals under the Government’s plans, but would be if the transitional measures of making all children in families receiving UC eligible for FSM remained in place https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/universal-credit-one-million-children-in-poverty-to-miss-out-on-free
4. Ministers have been accused of imposing controversial policy decisions through ‘statutory instruments’, a form of legislation that is fast-tracked through Parliament, often without a vote of the full House of Commons or Lords. Labour front benchers engineered next week’s votes through an obscure parliamentary process known as ‘praying against’ the draft regulations.
5. The Government have previously stated that Universal Credit would ensure that work would always pay. The cliff-edge created by the income threshold for FSM eligibility means this will not be the case for many parents.
“At its heart, Universal Credit is very simple and will ensure that work always pays and is seen to pay.”
Source: Department for Work and Pensions, Universal Credit: Welfare that works, p1