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School Meals

Volume 80: debated on Tuesday 11 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many school meals were served in each year since 1979; how many such meals were provided free; and what are his estimates of the likely totals in the current year and 1986–87 if the proposals in the social security review are implemented.

The information requested on school meals provision in England in past years is available in the Library, where it can be obtained from the published reports on the annual school meals census. The social security review proposals are not planned to take effect before 1987. They would therefore have no effect on 1985–86 and 1986–87.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the average price, highest price and lowest price, respectively, charged by any education authority for a school meal in 1979–80 and each subsequent year.

Prices of fixed meals in primary, secondary and special schools in each authority are shown in the Department's annual published school meals census, which is available in the Library. Cash cafeteria meal costs depend on individual choices of meal components, and since these are variable, they are not reflected in the figures and average prices are not calculated for each authority.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the number of children who will be entitled to receive free school meals if the proposals in the social security review are implemented.

In October 1984 the number of pupils in England who qualified for free school meals because their parents were in receipt of supplementary benefit is estimated to have been approximately 680,000. If the proposals in the Social Security Green Paper are implemented, the number of pupils entitled to a free school meal will vary according to the number with parents entitled to the proposed income support, which will replace supplementary benefit.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what categories of children will still be entitled to a free school meal if the proposals in the social security review are implemented; and what categories currently so entitled will not.

If the proposals in the Social Security Green Paper are implemented, pupils whose parents are in receipt of income support, the successor to supplementary benefit, would continue to be entitled to free school meals. The rates of the proposed family credit, which is to replace family income supplement, will be enhanced to provide extra cash help instead of free school meals.A third category of pupils for whom the whole or part of the charge may be remitted at local authority discretion would lose that benefit.