1 in 10 eligible for free school meals aren’t registered for them

The TES reports:

New analysis from the Liberal Democrats suggests 234,500 pupils entitled to FSM [Free School Meals] in England are not registered for them…

The Department for Education has admitted that more than one in ten pupils who are eligible for a FSM are not registered for them.

The party’s analysis suggests 132,988 of these will be in primary school and another 92,344 attend state-funded secondary schools.

However infant-aged children, from four to seven-years-old, who have not registered for FSMs would still be receiving lunches under the universal infant free school meals scheme, introduced in 2014 by the Coalition Government.

The Liberal Democrats have pointed out in these cases their schools will not attract pupil premium funding unless they also apply for benefits-related FSM.

Lib Dem spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Thousands of children are suffering needlessly because their families don’t know that they are entitled to free school meals or that they need to apply for them…

[Ministers] are standing idly by while children go hungry, expecting them to learn on empty stomachs. They have chosen not to step in and help.

Parents should not have to jump through additional hoops to ensure their children are well fed when the government already knows which families are entitled to free school meals.

Better still, the government should invest in our children by backing the Liberal Democrats’ plans for school lunches. Every child on Universal Credit should receive a free school meal.

More coverage for the story in The Guardian:

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