Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey has joined calls against the government’s plans to push through changes to free school meals for children across Barnsley and Rotherham.

Currently all families on Universal Credit can claim free school meals but the Government want to bring in an earnings threshold meaning children with parents earning more than £7,400 a year would no longer be eligible.

The Tories tried to sneak through the changes but Labour forced a vote in the Commons last night in a bid to stop the move, which is due to come in from 1 April.

According to analysis by The Children’s Society, the proposals will mean one million children living in poverty will miss out on the benefits of a free school meal, including 5500 in Rotherham and 3300 in Barnsley. 

John said:

“We know that if children get a hot meal at school it improves their health and education.

“The Tories’ heartless plans will leave almost 9000 children across Rotherham and Barnsley at risk of going hungry. Nationally, a million children living in poverty will be affected. For some their school lunch could be the only meal they get that day.

“The change will create a dangerous cliff-edge in the Universal Credit system and make it harder for families on low incomes to make ends meet.

“It is disappointing that the Government didn’t take the chance to think again.”

Labour wants every child in a family receiving Universal Credit to receive a free school meal.

A daily school meal costs around £400 per child per year.