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School Meals And School Transport

Volume 974: debated on Thursday 29 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of local authorities will use eligibility for supplementary benefit and family income supplement as the criterion for free school meals and free school transport.

This will not be known until local education authorities have each decided how to use the powers contained in the Education (No. 2) Bill, in which the wording in the relevant clauses is

"in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement."

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what is the estimate of the numbers of children who will qualify for free school meals under the Education (No. 2) Bill, even though their families are not in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement; and if he will state the assumptions on which this estimate is made;(2) what assumptions he used to enable him to make the estimates contained in his answer to the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) on 20 November,

Official Report, c. 117 and 118.

The assumption underlying the estimate given on 20 November was that the overall result of LEA decisions about the provision of school meals would be a reduction in the number of pupils taking a free school meal of between 20 per cent. and 30 per cent. No estimate is possible of the number of children who will qualify for free school meals under arrangements which have yet to be determined by local education authorities under the provisions of the Education (No. 2) Bill.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children were receiving free school meals on the day of the autumn census in 1979.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children qualify for and receive free school meals because they are in families in receipt of (a) supplementary benefit and (b) family income supplement.

The latest available information relates to 1978. In October 1978, 1ยท074 million children at maintained schools in England received a free school meal on the day of the census. It is estimated that, in the final quarter of 1978, 9 per cent. of schoolchildren belonged to families receiving supplementary benefit and 1 per cent. to families reciving family income supplement, and that about 80 per cent. of these children were taking free school meals.