Campaigners from the new Education Anti-Poverty Coalition are calling for child benefit to rise by £20 a week and the expansion of free school meals to tackle poverty and ensure all pupils have a fair chance at school. According to newspaper reports the coalition includes the Fair Education Alliance, Child Poverty Action Group and National Education Union.
The Independent reports that “ahead of the Budget this week, the group has written to the Prime Minister, Chancellor, and the secretaries for education and work and pensions demanding they address the issue of child poverty.”
The announcement said child poverty and hardship in schools were “endemic in England before the recent cost-of-living crisis, and getting much worse”.
The group said ensuring families have enough to live on would “significantly lighten the load for schools” while it could improve children’s experiences of school life.
To do this, the coalition said child benefit should see an immediate increase of £20 per week in payments which it says would support lower and middle-income families “whose budgets are increasingly squeezed”.
It also called for free school meals to be provided to every school-age child that needs one, arguing this would save families around £440 per year per child and prevent food-related worry and hunger at school.
The letter added: “If the Government rightly wants all children and schools to thrive, then first and foremost, it must address family incomes.
“Inaction will risk losing a generation of children trapped in poverty, held back at school and denied a better future.”
The Workers Party of Britain has advocated and campaigned for Britain’s children to receive free, nutritious school meals for all students at breakfast and at lunch since 2020. Back then, the Workers Party of Britain gave its support to the demand of Manchester United and England football star Marcus Rashford, who launched a petition asking the government to provide free school meals based on a means-tested criteria.
Whilst being opposed to means testing, the Workers Party did not stand idly to the side of such an important campaign. Though Marcus has achieved a great deal, the fight for free school meals must continue, it has the potential to bring much-needed relief to millions of working-class children and their families.