A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.

 
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
A policy report
                           on the future of
                           free school meals

A better childhood. For every child.           www.childrenssociety.org.uk
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
Contents

                              1.
                              Introduction                                                  3

                              2.
                              Summary                                                       4

                              3.
                              Current provision of free school
                              meals in England                                              5

                              4.
                              What impact do the current free school
                              meal eligibility criteria have on family
                              finances and on decisions about
                              moving into work?                                             8

                              5.
                              Families’ views on free school meals                      10

                              6.
                              What does the future of free school
                              meals look like?                                          14

                              7.
                              Extending free school meals to all
                              Universal Credit recipients                               15

                              8.
                              Conclusion and policy recommendations                     16

                              Acknowledgements
This report was written by:   Many thanks to Zeina Whalley and Jo Cleaver for help
Sam Royston,                  with designing the survey of family attitudes to free
Laura Rodrigues               school meals, and to Marsha Lowe, Charlie Powell
and David Hounsell            (The Children’s Food Campaign), Jo Walker (The School
April 2012                    Food Trust), Deven Ghalani (The Centre for Social Justice),
                              Nicola Moss and Professor Janet Walker for extremely
                              helpful comments on the report.
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
1. Introduction

Free school meals (FSM)         However, there are significant      Methods
are a crucial entitlement for   issues with the current
                                                                    This report draws on
families living in poverty.     entitlement for, and delivery
                                                                    a number of different
They help to ensure that        of, FSM. The loss of FSM
                                                                    sources to develop the
children from the lowest        entitlement on moving into
                                                                    analysis and results.
income families get a           full time paid work means
                                                                    These include:
nutritious meal in the          that nearly a million children
middle of the day.              in poverty in working
                                                                    • Primary data – including
                                families are not entitled to
                                                                       data from Her Majesty’s
As well as providing vital      the benefit. There are also
                                                                       Revenue and Customs
financial support for low       ongoing issues about the
                                                                       (HMRC), the Department
income families, FSM also       stigmatisation of children
                                                                       for Education (DfE), and
have important health and       who receive them.
                                                                       the School Food Trust.
educational benefits for the
                                                                       These data are used to
children that receive them.1    The government is
                                                                       estimate the numbers
Evidence shows that eating a    undertaking a fundamental
                                                                       of children entitled to
healthy school meal improves    overhaul of the welfare
                                                                       FSM and those who
children’s concentration        system with the introduction
                                                                       take up their FSM
during afternoon lessons and    of Universal Credit, which
                                                                       entitlement, and to
can have a positive impact      will necessitate significant
                                                                       develop cost estimates
on classroom behaviour.2        changes to FSM entitlement.
                                                                       for the extension of
Nutritious school meals         This presents a unique
                                                                       FSM to working families
for disadvantaged children      opportunity to improve the
                                                                       in receipt of Universal
can also help children to       eligibility criteria and delivery
                                                                       Credit.
develop healthy eating habits   of FSM so that provision
and have the potential to       is extended to low income
                                                                    • Data from the
decrease health inequalities.   working families. By doing
                                                                       Department for Work
                                this the government would
                                                                       and Pensions (DWP)
                                be delivering on its ambition
                                                                       about income disregards
                                to make work ‘pay’ and
                                                                       and withdrawal rates
                                incentivise employment as
                                                                       within the Universal
                                the route out of poverty.
                                                                       Credit. These are used
                                                                       to assess the impact of
                                                                       different FSM options on
                                                                       household incomes under
                                                                       the Universal Credit.

                                                                    • An online survey of 140
                                                                       UK parents who are
                                                                       currently, or had recently,
                                                                       been entitled to FSM
                                                                       (whether they took up
                                                                       this entitlement or not).

                                                                                   Fair and square 3
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
2. Summary

Main findings:                                                          Policy recommendations:
• In England, about a third of    • Our survey of parents             1. T
                                                                            he government should
   school aged children living       indicates that the loss of FSM        ensure that all children
   in poverty3 are not entitled      is a major work disincentive          in poverty are entitled to
   to receive FSM – around           for them. Nearly half (45%)           receive FSM, and promote
   700,000.                          of parents in families in             work incentives, by
                                     receipt of FSM are worried            extending FSM entitlement
• Although entitled, a further      ‘a lot’ about the financial           to school children in
  500,000 do not take up             implications of the loss of           families in receipt of
  their meals. This means that       FSM on moving into work or            Universal Credit.
  more than half (around 1.2         taking on additional hours.
  million) of all school aged        Six out of 10 felt that this had   2. A
                                                                            ll local authorities and
  children living in poverty in      an impact on their decisions          school providers should
  England do not receive FSM.        about moving into work or             introduce cashless systems
                                     taking on additional hours.           in order to de-stigmatise
• The main reason that so                                                 the receipt of FSM.
   many children in poverty        • A nationally representative
   are not entitled to receive        poll shows that more than         3. T
                                                                            he government should
   FSM is because their               90% of people believe that           review the extent to which
   parents are in work. The           children in low income,              maintained schools and
   current eligibility criteria       working families should be           academies are adhering to
   for FSM mean that parents          entitled to receive FSM              the nutritional standards
   working 16 or more hours           (see Figure 7).                      for school food, and
   per week (24 hours for                                                  whether secondary school
   couples from April 2012),       • The introduction of the              pupils who take up FSM are
   lose their entitlement to         Universal Credit presents a           receiving enough to buy
   FSM, no matter how                watershed moment for the              a full and nutritious meal,
   little they earn.                 future of FSM. The abolition          with a range of choices
                                     of key benefits currently             available within budget.
• FSM can also lead to children     used for passporting to FSM
  being entitled to a number         entitlements means that a
  of other benefits – such as        complete new system of
  school clothing allowances,        entitlement needs to be
  support with school trips,         put in place before October
  music lessons, and access to       2013. This provides a key
  leisure centres. Families in       opportunity to extend
  low paid work may therefore        FSM to all low income,
  also not receive these other       working families.
  forms of support.

4 Fair and square
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
3. Current provision of free school meals in England

  Current entitlement                                              How many children
                                                                                                       Calculating numbers of
  criteria                                                         receive FSM?
                                                                                                       children who are and
  In England, families with                                        There are around 2.2 million
                                                                                                       are not entitled to free
  a child attending a state                                        state school children living in
  school are normally entitled                                     poverty6 in England.                school meals
  to receive FSM if they are                                                                           • In January 2011 there
  working under 16 hours per                                       Around 1.5 million children           were around 7.5 million
  week (from April 2012, 24                                        in state schools in England           children and young
  hours for couples) and their                                     meet the eligibility criteria for     people in state maintained
  income is under £16,190.4                                        FSM, meaning that there are           schools in England.8
                                                                   at least 700,000 children in
  A small number of local                                          poverty who do not.                 • Around one in five of
  authorities have decided                                                                               these children are entitled
  to extend FSM beyond this                                        However, not all of those             to FSM.9 This equates to
  eligibility. For example,                                        children who meet the                 around 1.5 million state
  Islington has independently                                      eligibility criteria have a FSM       school children in England.
  decided to make FSM                                              every day. Around 200,000
  available to all nursery and                                     of these children are not           • Most recently available
  primary school children.5                                        registered for FSM with their         statistics indicate that
  However, the national                                            school, and of those registered,      around 1.3 million children
  entitlement criteria rule out                                    each day around a further             in England are eligible for
  low income, working families                                     300,000 do not eat the meal.          and claiming FSM.10
  from receiving FSM.                                                                                  • Of children registered
                                                                   Therefore of the 2.2 million          for FSM11 80% (pupils in
                                                                   school children living in             primary schools) and
                                                                   poverty in England only               69% (pupils in secondary
                                                                   1 million receive FSM. This           schools) took them up –
                                                                   means that each day at least          an average across the two
                                                                   1.2 million children in poverty       of almost 75%12 or around
                                                                   do not get FSM.7 700,000              1 million children.
                                                                   of these (or about a third of
                                                                   school children in poverty) are
                                                                   not entitled to FSM at all (see
                                                                   Figure 1).

   Figure 1: Entitlement to FSM and children in poverty

                                2.5
                                                2.2m
Number of children (millions)

                                 2

                                                                       1.5m
                                1.5
                                                                                  1.3m

                                                                                             1m              Meet entitlement criteria
                                  1
                                                                                                             for FSM

                            0.5                                                                              Registered for FSM

                                                                                                             Receiving FSM
                                 0
                                      Children living in poverty       Children entitled to FSM

                                                                                                                       Fair and square 5
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
Why do so many children              Latest statistics show that       2. Not all families who are
in poverty not get free              more than half of children        entitled make a claim. Even if
school meals?                        in poverty (58%) live in low      they are entitled to FSM, some
                                     income working families.13        families choose not to make
There are three key reasons          Many of these children will       a claim. This may be because
why so many children in              not be entitled to receive FSM    their children do not want the
poverty do not receive FSM.          because of their parents’         meals or it may be because the
                                     work status. Respondents to       parents do not feel the meals
1. Not all children living in        our survey said:                  are of good enough quality for
poverty are entitled to receive                                        their children. There are also
them. Children living in low         ‘When I started working           ongoing issues around the
income working households                                              stigma attached to the receipt
are not normally entitled
                                     (going from income
                                                                       of FSM. Some of these issues
to receive FSM. As already           support) as a single parent I     are discussed in more detail
highlighted, around 700,000          found it too expensive to be      in Chapter 5.
school children living in poverty    able to pay for school meals
are not entitled to receive FSM.     for my children.’                 It is important to note that
                                                                       schools are increasingly asking
This is because the eligibility                                        parents to sign up for FSM
criteria for FSM mean that           ‘the FSM system should be
                                                                       even if their children decide
parents working 16 or more           looked into, the weekly cost      not to take them, because
hours per week – 24 hours            of school meals is about £10      they may receive additional
for couples from April 2012          or more – times this by the       support based on the number
– and so are entitled to             number of children it would       of children registered for
receive working tax credit,                                            FSM. Of the estimated 1.5
lose their entitlement to FSM.
                                     mean that I would need to
                                                                       million children eligible for
                                     pay £30 or more a week for        FSM, around 200,000 are not
                                     a cooked lunch.                   registered.

... around 700,000 school children living in                           3. When the family have
                                                                       made a claim, not all children
poverty are not entitled to receive FSM.                               choose to eat the meal. Even if
                                                                       the parents choose to register
                                                                       for FSM, children do not always
                                                                       eat them. Of the around 1.3
                                                                       million children registered
                                                                       for FSM, around a quarter
                                                                       (325,000) do not take them up
                                                                       on any particular day.

 Figure 2: When you are entitled to free school meals,
 do children take them?

 80%
         72%
 70%

 60%           53%
 50%

 40%
                                  29%
 30%                                                                        Primary

 20%                     17%                                                Secondary
                                                8%             10%
  10%                                     7%
                                                          3%            Free school meals survey, questions 13
  0%                                                                    (primary) and 21 (secondary): 97 and 62
                                                                        responses respectively
          Always           Most of       Occasionally    Never (but
                          the time                       registered)

 6 Fair and square
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
As shown in Figure 2, our
survey found a similarly mixed
                                  Nancy and Mark’s family
picture of take up – whilst       Nancy is unemployed                  the value of the FSM as it only
the majority of parents who       and has a partner who is             covers the equivalent of a
registered said their children    on Employment Support                slice of pizza and a drink. The
(in both primary and              Allowance. They have three           value of the FSM was £1.95
secondary school) ate FSM         school age children, two are         but Nancy thought that at
‘always’ or ‘most of the time,’   in primary school and are            least £3 a day was necessary.
only around three quarters of     receiving FSM, and one is in         The meal at the secondary
primary, and half of secondary    secondary school but because         school was also unsatisfactory
school students were ‘always’     he recently changed schools,         as it was mostly junk food,
taking one. One in 10 primary     he is still waiting for his FSM      leaving Nancy concerned
and one in five secondary         application to be processed.         about her son ‘not having a
school children registered                                             proper meal’.
for FSM ‘never’, or only          For Nancy’s children, their
‘occasionally’, had them.         school lunch is the main meal        Children at the school who
                                  of the day. In the evening           receive FSM get a token to
Some children do not always       they often just have a smaller       hand in so they are clearly
want their FSM as they may        dinner, especially if they are all   identifiable leading Nancy
not like them or have the         tired. FSM are therefore very        to also have concerns that
time to eat them because          important as they guarantee          this alienates her son from
of lunchtime activities.          her children a good meal.            his peers. The school was
Parents responding to our                                              even thinking of introducing
survey noted:                     Before the FSM applications          staggered lunches with
                                  were completed for all her           FSM children going into the
‘My son preferred to eat          children, Nancy and her              canteen before others leading
at break to participate           partner had to provide packed        to further segregation of
                                  lunches for a few weeks.             those in receipt of FSM.
in lunchtime clubs. FSM
                                  She found that they cost the
is not available at break         family around £30 a week             Nancy is concerned about
time.’                            (£10 per child). Nancy found         the loss of FSM if she were
                                  that the supplies and snacks         to move into work because
                                  for packed lunches were              as well as rent, council tax,
‘Sometimes they don’t             ‘ridiculously priced’.               travel and childcare costs –
have time if they have                                                 paying for school lunches or
sports clubs etc’                 Another additional cost was          providing packed lunches
                                  that she found her children          is ‘so expensive’ with three
                                  enjoyed snacking on the items        children.
                                  intended for their packed
                                  lunch during the evening so it       Nancy believes all children
                                  was harder to budget. Once           should get FSM as it would
                                  she had FSM sorted for her           guarantee all children get
                                  children she had more for            a good meal and it would
                                  the weekly food shop: ‘that          remove the prejudice towards
                                  was an extra £30 of food in          those on FSM:
                                  the freezer’.
                                                                       ‘If every child had a free
                                  She is very happy with the           school meal then there
                                  school meals her children are
                                  provided for in their primary
                                                                       would be no stigma
                                  school as they have the choice       because everyone would
                                  of a good range of hot food.         be the same. You feel
                                                                       embarrassed to say you
                                  At his previous school, her          are on free school meals
                                  eldest son received FSM. She
                                                                       – the children see the
                                  found that he needed some
                                  extra money to supplement            differences.’

                                                                                       Fair and square 7
A policy report on the future of free school meals - A better childhood. For every child.
4. What impact do the current free school meal
eligibility criteria have on family finances and on
decisions about moving into work?

FSM have a substantial           In addition to the direct               There are many working
financial value. The most        value of the FSM entitlement,           families who live below the
recent available data indicate   receipt of FSM may also                 poverty line and do not
that school meals cost an        provide access to other
average of £1.88 in local        benefits. For example, the
                                                                         qualify for free meals and
authority (LA) catered           Direct Gov website notes:               this is one area that needs to
primary schools, and £1.98                                               be looked at.’
in LA catered secondary          ‘Some schools and local
schools.14 Assuming an                                                   Entitlements such as school
                                 authorities offer extra
average across the two of                                                clothing allowances,16 or
£1.93 for each child, FSM are
                                 support to children                     reduced price access to leisure
worth approximately:             who are registered –                    facilities17 contribute to the
                                 for instance, help with the             overall value of entitlement
£1.93 x 5 (days per week) =      cost of school trips or                 to FSM.
£9.65 per school term week       music lessons.’15
                                                                         Parents told us about the
£9.65 x 38 (weeks per year)      One of the parents                      impact of the loss of FSM on
= £367 averaged over the         we surveyed noted:                      their family finances:
course of the year.
                                 ‘... receiving free meals also          ‘the difference between
As already highlighted,                                                  me working or not is about
parents who begin to             allows my children access to
                                 music lessons at a reduced              £40, half of which is now
work 16 hours or more per
week (24 hours for couples       rate as well as half price              paid out in school meals.
from April 2012), lose their     entry at our local leisure              It has a huge impact’
entitlement to receive FSM.      centre, this allows them to
This can hugely undermine
work incentives.
                                 participate in activities that I
                                 would be unable to afford.

For example, a lone parent
with three school aged           Figure 3: How worried are you about the financial implications
children would currently         of losing your FSM if you or your partner move into work or
be entitled to £272 per          take on additional hours?
week benefit income
(after housing costs)            50%
                                           45.3%
when out of work.                45%
                                 40%
Working 16 hours per                                          33.7%
                                 35%
week on the minimum
wage (£6.08 per hour)            30%
their income would be            25%
around £363 per week (a          20%
gain of £91). £29 in school      15%                                                            12.6%
meal costs reduces the                                                           8.4%
                                 10%
gain to £62, representing
                                  5%
around a third of the
overall financial benefits        0%
of working.                                 A lot            A little         Not at all   Not applicable
                                                                                           (entitled but not
                                 Free school meals survey, question 9, 95 responses         receiving FSM)

8 Fair and square
We asked parents who
are currently entitled to
                                      Amy’s family
receive FSM how worried               Amy is a single mother                  The secondary school her
they are about the financial          with four children, one at              children attend has a cashless
implications of the loss of           primary school and two at               system with each child issued
FSM if they moved into                secondary school. She is                with a meal card and for those
work or took on additional            unemployed and receives                 on FSM this is topped up to
hours. Around half of                 income support.                         the value of the FSM. She
respondents said they                                                         feels that the meal card is less
worried ‘a lot’ about this.           Her three children at school            stigmatising because all her
Less than one in 10 were not          receive FSM. She would find             daughter’s friends have them.
worried at all about this.            it very expensive to pay                The card system means ’all
                                      for her children’s school               the kids are the same’ and she
Many parents were worried             meals every day and is less             believes all schools should use
that, in large part as a result       worried now that they have              a cashless card system.
of the loss of FSM, they could        FSM. The school day is long
actually be worse off as a            and she thinks it is really             Amy does want to work
result of moving into work.           important for her children to           part-time eventually when
                                      have something decent to                her baby is older. However,
‘If I move into work I could          eat to keep them going.                 she is worried about the
actually be getting less                                                      implications of losing FSM
money than I do now – I               However, the FSM only                   if she moved into work
get disability benefits and           covers enough for food and              especially with having to
                                      her children sometimes ask              provide for four children and
would then have to start              for extra money to buy a                cover childcare and travel
paying for the school meals           drink. She is also concerned            costs.
but with a lower income’              that the food options at the
                                      school are not very healthy             Amy believes all low income
‘When I move into paid                and the school should either            families should receive FSM
work (I am currently a carer/         provide better monitoring               even those who are working
                                      of the children’s food                  full-time because many of
single parent) my income
                                      choices or provide more                 them are still only just
will be lower – school                nutritious options.                     ‘making ends meet.’
lunches are yet another
thing to worry about.’

There appears to be a clear
work disincentive effect. More
than a quarter of respondents
said that the impact on their       Figure 4: To what extent does the impact on your FSM
FSM entitlement affected            entitlement affect your decisions about moving into work
their decisions about moving        or taking on additional hours?
into work or taking on
additional hours ‘a lot’. Six out   50%
of 10 said it affected these        45%
decisions to some degree.           40%
                                    35%                          32.6%
As discussed in more detail                                                         29.5%
                                    30%        27.4%
in Chapter 6, changes as a
result of the introduction of       25%
the Universal Credit could          20%
lead to the FSM eligibility         15%
                                                                                                    10.5%
criteria having an even more        10%
substantial impact on work
                                     5%
incentives.
                                     0%
                                               A lot             A little         Not at all   Not applicable
                                                                                               (entitled but not
                                    Free School Meals survey: question 11, 95 responses         receiving FSM)

                                                                                               Fair and square 9
5. Families’ views on free school meals

Is there still stigma            There was a great deal of           ‘The only way anyone would
attached to FSM?                 variation in the level of concern   know is if my kids choose
                                 felt by parents. In part there      to say. With the cashless
There have been longstanding     was variation by age, with
concerns about the stigma        primary school children less
                                                                     system it’s completely
associated with the receipt of   likely to be aware of who           confidential.’
FSM.  Research has identified    was and was not in receipt
that many children do not        of FSM. However, it was clear       ‘Because of the system
claim their entitlement to       that stigma was eliminated
FSM due to teasing, bullying                                         (fingerprint at till), money
                                 if children were in schools
and fear of stigma.18 Many                                           is added automatically to
                                 where FSM recipients cannot
parents we surveyed remained     be identified. For example, in      account... and nobody
concerned about this:            schools where meals are pre         knows who is who.’
                                 paid for or where cashless
‘My older children have had      systems operate – such as           However, in the schools where
free meals in the past and       a card based or biometric           children who receive FSM were
have been bullied as a result’   system. One mother we               easily identifiable there was a
                                 interviewed stated that the         different story:
One respondent noted that:       card system they use at her
‘The staff think you’re          child’s school means ‘all the       ‘My child enjoys most of
                                 kids are the same’. Parents         his school meals. He’s
worthless’.                      from the survey also noted:         becoming aware that not
Another simply highlighted                                           everyone gets them free
                                 ‘As we have a cashless
‘Unkind and unpleasant                                               though, and this is a cause
                                 system others kids need
remarks’.                                                            for embarrassment - if the
                                 never know my kids have
                                                                     school could come up with
                                 FSM. They are a godsend
                                                                     a system where everyone
                                 and I would really struggle
                                                                     had a lunch ticket, paid for in
                                 without them.’
                                                                     advance, that would save a
                                                                     lot of heartache’

                                                                     For these reasons, one of
                                                                     our recommendations is that
                                                                     cashless systems are extended
                                                                     to all schools, in order that
                                                                     children in receipt of FSM
                                                                     are not differentiated from
                                                                     their peers.

10 Fair and square
What do parents think
of the quality and
nutritional value of FSM?
High quality food provided in
schools can have a significant
impact on a child’s health
and development. This is
important as growing up with
a poor diet can lead to health
problems in childhood and
in later life. It can also have a
negative impact on children’s
mental well-being.19 Healthy
and balanced diets are also
crucial to limiting or avoiding
serious conditions such as
child and adult obesity,20
diabetes, high blood
pressure, cancer and heart
disease. Research has also
shown that school meals are
often healthier than packed
lunches, with only one
percent of packed lunches
meeting the nutritional
standards set for school
lunches.21 The nutritional
value and quality of FSM are
central to encouraging take         A parent we interviewed told     Some parents surveyed also
up and improving the health         us that her son is a fussy       suggested that in some cases
of our nation’s children.           eater but is encouraged to       the amount provided for
                                    try a variety of food when he    FSM is not sufficient to buy
When asked why their                sees his friends eating their    full meals for their children,
children take up FSM                school meals.                    or that there is very limited
when entitled, around 30%                                            choice for those in receipt
of parents with primary             However, in the survey some      of FSM:
school children, and 35%            parents expressed their
of secondary school                 concern about the quality of     ‘A main meal and pudding
parents, said one reason            the school meal their children
was that they are healthy.
                                                                     cost more than my
                                    were receiving. Parents said:
A parent responding to                                               daughter is given on
the survey stated:                  ‘I don’t think the school is     her lunch card!’
                                    providing enough healthy
‘The menu at my child’s                                              ‘In secondary schools
                                    options’
school is interesting, varied                                        there is often a large
and nutritious.’                                                     choice of meals available
                                    ‘The school meals are high
                                    in fat and less likely to be     – but only one choice for
Providing children with a
                                    healthy for my children.’        FSM (the ‘meal-deal’).
nutritious meal at school can
also influence food choices                                          Not very fair for the child.’
in the home as children learn
about healthy food options.                                          Others raised the issue
Research has indicated that                                          that support with FSM does
the food eaten at school                                             not always include money
has a central role in shaping                                        for a drink.
children’s diets.22

                                                                                    Fair and square 11
There have been significant       folate and vitamin D.26 FSM        The survey asked parents
improvements in the               enable children to have an         which meal was their child’s
quality of school food in         adequate meal when there           main meal of the day and
the past few years with the       may be reductions on food          (as shown in Figure 5)
introduction of statutory         spending at home27 as one          although the majority said
nutritional standards for         parent in our survey wrote:        dinner, nearly a third said that
school food and the setting                                          their child’s lunch at school is
up of the School Food Trust.23    ‘It ensures the children get       their main meal.
These include restrictions on     healthy balanced meals
confectionary, pre-packaged                                          This highlights the importance
savoury snacks and high-sugar
                                  when the budget at home            of ensuring all school meals are
fizzy drinks, and increases       is so tight.’                      of high quality. An evaluation
in fruit, vegetables and high                                        of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Feed Me
quality meat and fish. Research   Nutritious school meals            Better’ campaign, a campaign
from the School Food Trust        for disadvantaged children         which in 2004/05 focused
indicates the benefits these      therefore have the potential       on improving the quality of
improved standards have had       to decrease these dietary          school meals served in the
on pupil concentration and        inequalities. For some school      London Borough of Greenwich,
engagement with lessons.24        children their free school lunch   found that the campaign
However, currently these          may often be the only healthy      had a positive effect on Key
statutory standards are only      cooked food they get, and for      Stage 2 results in English and
for maintained schools so do      some it can be their only meal     Science.28 The study found
not apply to academies and        of the day. As one parent in the   that the percentage of pupils
free schools. It is a concern     survey stated:                     across Greenwich reaching
that with the recent increase                                        level 4 in English increased by
in academies, many more           ‘It’s peace of mind that he’s      4.5 percentage points, and the
children will be attending        had a decent meal at school.’      percentage of pupils reaching
schools that do not have legal                                       level 5 in Science increased
binding nutritional standards.    The response from a parent         by 6 percentage points. The
Academies and free schools        below graphically illustrates      nature of the campaign meant
must be covered by the            the impact the loss of FSM can     that the evaluation could
nutritional standards in order    have on a child’s diet:            use other local authorities
to ensure all children are                                           with similar characteristics to
receiving nutritious, high        ‘Child liked the meals when        Greenwich as a natural control
quality food in school                                               group, meaning the results
                                  he was entitled to them.
(see recommendation c).                                              identify a direct causal effect
                                  Now he just has a bread roll       of improved school meals on
FSM are particularly important    if I don’t have the full money’    educational attainment.
for disadvantaged families.
Research studies have
                                  Figure 5: Which meal is your child’s main meal of the day?
found that poor diets can be
prevalent and child obesity
is particularly high in low
income families.25 Healthy food
options can be less accessible                         5.5%
and more costly making it
more difficult for financially
constrained parents to
provide nutritious meals
                                                                 29.1%
for their children.
                                                                                    Breakfast
Poor children on average eat
                                           65.5%
half the daily recommended                                                          Lunch
fruit and vegetable intake,
exceed recommended                                                                  Dinner
daily sugars and saturated
fat intakes and often eat
inadequate levels of iron,                                                      Free school meals survey:
                                                                                question 29, 110 responses

12 Fair and square
Jennifer’s family
Jennifer is a single mother with   The health visitor told Jennifer   During school holidays,
four children, three of them       about her entitlement to FSM       Jennifer finds it very expensive
in primary school. One of her      for her children. Two of the       to pay for three extra lunches
children has Autistic Spectrum     applications were processed        per day and her weekly
Disorder, one has mental           fine but one form got lost.        shopping bill goes up between
health issues and the baby has     So for eight weeks she had         £30–£40. She finds that she
restricted growth syndrome.        to pay for one child’s school      cannot take her children out
She receives FSM for all her       meal and this ‘did make            on day trips or to activities as
primary school aged children       things hard financially’.          much as she would normally.
at the value of £1.85 per day.
                                   She is concerned about the         Jennifer is concerned that if
The children’s main meal of        stigma of FSM and has said         she moved into work, school
the day is their FSM and they      that for the ‘older ones it has    meal costs would be part of a
do get a healthy cooked meal       to be kept discreet... otherwise   range of extra costs she would
at school although she does        they will be bullied’. She         face. She believes all families on
think there could be more          expressed a particular concern     a low income, including those
variety. Her children like the     that if her son with mental        who are working, should get
school lunch as it is a hot meal   health problems was bullied,       FSM for their children.
and is well cooked. They also      he could turn violent and be
like sitting and eating a meal     expelled.
with their friends and are
more likely to try new foods
at school as their friends are
having them too.

                                                                                       Fair and square 13
6. What does the future of free school meals look like?

 As a result of the introduction                               There will be no threshold        Figure 6 illustrates the potential
 of the Universal Credit, the                                  (either of hours or earnings)     impact on the income of a
 eligibility criteria for FSM                                  within the new Universal          lone parent with three school
 have to change substantially                                  Credit system at which the        aged children with an earnings
 by September 2013. This is                                    family gain a substantial         limit of £7500 per year (£144 a
 because key benefits which                                    increase in benefit income.       week) to be imposed on FSM
 determine whether a family                                    Instead, household income         entitlement.
 is entitled to FSM (including                                 increases gradually as
 Income Support, Job Seekers’                                  earnings increase. This           It is clear that this situation
 Allowance and Child Tax Credit                                means that there is no            would create a severe work
 and Working Tax Credit)                                       point at which the loss of        and work progression,
 will all cease to exist for new                               FSM is covered by other           disincentive. A family earning
 claimants,29 and be replaced by                               benefits. This creates a ‘cliff   £143 per week would be
 the Universal Credit.                                         edge’ where if a claimant         substantially better off than
                                                               exceeds this point, the costs     a family who (as a result of
 Under the current system,                                     exceed the benefits. This         taking on additional hours or
 the loss of FSM at 16                                         effectively means that you        receiving a pay rise) earned
 hours of work per week,                                       lose money for earning more       just over the £144 threshold.
 (24 couples from April) is                                    or working longer.
 partially alleviated by gaining                                                                 Because of how Universal
 substantial additional benefit                                The government has                Credit entitlement is structured
 income (through Working                                       indicated that they are           – with high withdrawal rates of
 Tax Credit) at the same                                       considering how to replace        benefits when earning more or
 hours threshold. This means                                   the current entitlement           working longer hours – many
 that although the benefit of                                  criteria, perhaps through an      of the families affected will
 working 16 hours per week                                     income threshold at which         have to earn far more before
 are reduced by the loss of                                    FSM entitlement is lost.30        they recover the loss of FSM.
 FSM, the family will normally                                 However, the final decision
 still gain income overall at the                              for how FSM are dealt with
 point where they lose their                                   remains under consideration.
 FSM entitlement.

 Figure 6: Household income under Universal Credit31 for lone parent with three children
 with earnings limit of £144 per week for FSM entitlement.

                                   £550
(including FSM equivalent value)

                                   £530
   Weekly household income

                                                     hh income = £499               £499
                                   £510
                                   £490
                                   £470
                                   £450                                                                            (Where rent is
                                   £430
                                                                                                                   £85 pw, council
                                                                                                                   tax is £15 pw and
                                   £410                                                                            the family are in
                                   £390                                                                            receipt of FSM
                                                                                                                   which is included
                                   £370                                                                            as equivalent
                                   £350                                                                            cash value32)
                                       £0      £50      £100       £150      £200      £250      £300       £350

                                     Weekly household earnings   £144               £231

 14 Fair and square
In the case given, the parent
would need to earn an
                                     7. Extending free school meals to
additional £88 per week (more
than £4500 per year) before
                                     all Universal Credit recipients
their income fully recovered
from the loss of FSM. This
means that the person’s              The introduction of the Universal Credit creates a unique
earnings would need to               opportunity to ensure that all children in poverty get FSM,
increase from £7500 to more          including those in lower income working families, by extending
than £12000 a year before their      FSM entitlements to all Universal Credit claimants. We estimate
overall income, including the        that this would mean an additional 1.3 million children would
value of FSM, reached the level      receive FSM.  For a full explanation of how this proposal would
it was at when their earnings        work, see Appendix 1.
were below £7500. 
                                     What are the benefits of          3) Work incentives would
The loss of FSM is also likely to    extending entitlement?            be substantially better
be exacerbated as the family                                           for parents with school
                                     1) Children in poverty in         aged children compared
would also lose the additional
                                     working families would            to alternative options for
entitlements that are provided
                                     receive FSM. Many families        the provision of FSM under
locally as a result of the receipt
                                     with children may continue to     the Universal Credit. For a
of FSM, including uniform
                                     retain some level of Universal    detailed explanation of the
allowances and reduced price
                                     Credit entitlement even with      reasons for improved work
access to leisure facilities. Once
                                     relatively high earnings.         incentives, see Appendix 1.
these are taken into account
                                     Extending FSM to these
the effective ‘cliff edge’ may
                                     households would mean that
be even greater.
                                     almost all children in poverty
                                                                       What would this cost?
                                     in working households, and        Our estimates suggest that
The government need to
                                     out-of-work households,           the cost of providing FSM
consider alternative options
                                     would receive FSM.                to all children in families in
for provision of FSM which
                                                                       receipt of Universal Credit
do not create a benefit cliff
                                                                       in England would be around
edge that leaves low income          2) Extending entitlement
                                                                       £500 million per year.
families worse off for earning       to children in low income
more. We believe that the            working families could help
                                                                       However, if necessary, the
best way to address this is          to reduce stigma for all
                                                                       cost to government could be
to extend FSM to children in         recipients, since FSM would
                                                                       significantly reduced through
all families eligible to receive     be available to a significantly
                                                                       partial payment from parents
the Universal Credit. This           increased proportion of
                                                                       by reducing their Universal
option is discussed in more          children, and would not be
                                                                       Credit ‘income disregard’.
detail in the following chapter.     associated with worklessness.
                                                                       This could reduce the cost to
                                                                       government to around £290
                                                                       million were a reduction in
                                                                       household income disregards
... a benefit cliff edge that leaves low income                        of around £5 per week applied
families worse off for earning more.                                   for each child receiving FSM
                                                                       in the household. For a full
                                                                       explanation of how these
                                                                       reduced income disregards
                                                                       could be applied, see
                                                                       Appendix 1.

                                                                       For a full explanation of the
                                                                       costs of extending FSM to all
                                                                       children in families in receipt
                                                                       of Universal Credit see
                                                                       Appendix 1, and Appendix 2
                                                                       for full policy costing tables.

                                                                                       Fair and square 15
What public support                   Figure 7: Should FSM be provided for school children living in
would there be for                    poverty, including those in working families?
doing this?
There is widespread support
                                      100%
for allowing children in low                        91%
                                      90%
income, working families to
have FSM.                             80%
                                      70%
A nationally representative poll      60%
conducted by GFK NOP on               50%
behalf of The Children’s Society
                                      40%
(Figure 7) found that more
                                      30%
than 90% of people believe
that FSM should be available          20%
                                                                              8%
for all children in poverty,           10%
                                                                                                   1%
including those in working             0%
families.                                            Yes                      No                Not sure

                                      Base: UK, all adults 16+, 1000 respondents, 6 Feb 2012

8. Conclusion and policy recommendations

FSM are a key benefit for low         a situation where low income             for parents with children in
income families, ensuring that        families lose out for increasing         receipt of FSM.
children in these families get        their working hours or their pay.
a healthy lunch at school and                                                  2) All local authorities and
easing the strain on tight            Issues of stigma around the              schools providers should
family budgets.                       receipt of FSM still exist, as           introduce cashless systems
                                      do issues around the quality             in order to de-stigmatise the
However, around 700,000               of these meals. As well as               receipt of FSM.
children in poverty are not           extending FSM eligibility to
                                                                               Currently around half of
entitled to receive FSM, with         working families, action also
                                                                               secondary schools use cashless
many of these coming from             needs to be taken to address
                                                                               systems for the payment for
low income, working families.         these issues.
                                                                               school food.33 Such systems
The loss of FSM when parents
                                                                               ensure that children in receipt
move into paid employment             Policy recommendations                   of FSM are not identified
of more than 16 (single) or
                                      1) The government should                 as such. However, many
24 (couple) hours per week,
                                      extend FSM entitlement to                secondary schools still use
regardless of income, is not
                                      school children in families in           cash payment for school food,
only unfair, but it also creates
                                      receipt of Universal Credit.             with a voucher or token for
a severe work disincentive. Six
                                                                               those in receipt of FSM. In such
out of 10 parents in our survey       There are two key reasons                cases, children in receipt of
said that the loss of FSM has an      why the government should                FSM can be identified, and as
impact on their decisions about       extend FSM to school children            a result, these children may be
whether to move into work or          in families in receipt of the            stigmatised.
take on more hours.                   Universal Credit. Firstly, it
                                      would mean that almost all               We recommend that cashless
There is a risk that this situation   children living in poverty would         payment systems are
could become even worse               be entitled to FSM, including            implemented in all schools so
following the introduction of the     those in low income working              that children in receipt of FSM
Universal Credit. The possibility     families. Secondly, it would help        are never identified as such.
of introducing an earnings            to promote work incentives
threshold for FSM could lead to       and ensure that work ‘pays’

16 Fair and square
One of the principle barriers    All school food should satisfy   needed. The government
to this is cost.34 The average   the new statutory requirements   should review the level of
cost of installing a system is   for balanced meals and           support being provided for
around £16,00035 and the         healthier school food.           FSM in secondary schools
total cost of installing a       However, currently academies     and whether it is sufficient to
system in English secondary      and free schools are exempt      provide a full and nutritious
schools that do not have one     from these requirements. The     meal, and to provide children
would be in the region of £20    government should continue       receiving FSM with a choice
million.36 The Department        to promote nutritious and        of options.
for Education should             high quality school food by
consider what financial          reviewing the extent to which    There should also be more
support they could provide       these standards are being        emphasis on asking children
to schools without cashless      adhered to across the country,   and young people their
payment systems in place,        and ensuring all state funded    opinion on lunchtimes, school
to enable them to introduce      schools, including academies     meals and what they would
such systems.                    and free schools, have to        like to eat. This would be
                                 adhere to the school food        an informative and valuable
3) The government should         standards. The government        exercise and could improve
review the extent to which       should also consider whether     pupil uptake of FSM and
state maintained schools and     Ofsted should return to          interest in healthy eating.
academies are adhering to        inspecting school food.          One way of doing this was
the nutritional standards for                                     demonstrated in Newham
school food, and whether         Many of the parents we           where school nutritional
pupils in receipt of FSM are     surveyed raised concerns that    action groups gave pupils
receiving enough support to      the support they received        the opportunity to share their
purchase a full and nutritious   for FSM was insufficient         views on school meals with
meal, with a range of choices    to purchase the meal their       school governors, staff and
available within budget.         secondary school children        catering representatives.37

                                                                                   Fair and square 17
Appendix 1: Extending free school meals to all
children in families in receipt of Universal Credit

Our estimates suggest that the      So a lone parent with one           The cost calculations in
cost of extending FSM for all       child would receive a minimum       Appendix 2 indicate that a
children in families in receipt     income disregard under              reduction in the level of the
of Universal Credit in the UK       Universal Credit of around          income disregard of £5 for
would be around £500 million        £53 per week. In order to pay       each child in the household
per year. However, if necessary,    for the extension of FSM to         could pay for nearly half of
the cost to government could        working families, part payment      the cost of extending FSM to
be significantly reduced            for this additional entitlement     working families – this would
through partial payment by          could come from reducing the        reduce the cost to government
working parents through             income disregards within their      to around £290 million. Under
reductions in their Universal       Universal Credit entitlement.       this option every contributing
Credit ‘income disregard’.                                              family would still receive a
                                    A reduction in the family’s         greater value through school
How would a part-funded             income disregard would              meals received for their
option work?                        mean that as they move into         children than they would lose
                                    work, the amount of Universal       in cash through a reduced
Income disregards in the            Credit they receive will begin      income disregard.
Universal Credit are the            to be reduced on the basis
amount the family can earn          of earnings at a slightly lower     For a lone parent with two
before their Universal Credit       earnings point. However, under      children, their minimum
entitlement begins to be            our policy proposals these          earnings disregard38 under
reduced. After this point, for      families will continue to receive   Universal Credit will be around
each additional £1 which is         FSM as they move into work.         £58 per week.39 Under these
earned (net), 65p is withdrawn                                          proposals this would be
from Universal Credit                                                   reduced to £48 per week
entitlement.                                                            where they receive FSM for
                                                                        the two children.

   How could this work in practice?
   • A family makes a claim for Universal Credit at the point their first child is born.
      They are found to be eligible and their claim begins.
   • At the point the child starts primary school, they become entitled to FSM. They tell
      the school that they would like to take up their entitlement. Having made their
      application for FSM, they are told that they need to inform the DWP of this.
   • The family notify the DWP that they have one child receiving FSM.
   • The child starts receiving FSM.
   • The DWP adjusts the household Universal Credit entitlement accordingly.
   • When the child stops receiving FSM, the parents notify the DWP of this, and
      Universal Credit entitlement is adjusted again to reflect their entitlement to a
      higher income disregard.

18 Fair and square
How much would these                It is worth noting that the        is fully funded by government
policy options cost?                cost to government would be        or part funded by in-work
                                    slightly higher if the reduction   families. We estimate that, in
Bringing all children in families   in the income disregard was        cash terms, families would be
entitled to receive Universal       applied to the first three         better off by between £198 and
Credit into entitlement for FSM     children only to reflect that      £367 per child receiving FSM
would mean that 3.8 million         households get no additional       per year43 depending upon
children40 could be entitled        income disregard within            whether families part fund or
to receive FSM. Based on            Universal Credit after their       government funds all of the
current take up rates of school     third child.                       additional cost respectively.
meals, and projected take up
rates of Universal Credit,41 it     Full policy cost tables are        Even based on conservative
is estimated that around 2.3        included in Appendix 2.            estimates (where all working
million children would take up                                         parents with children now
this entitlement.
                                    Why work incentives                benefiting from receipt of FSM
                                    would improve for parents          were previously providing a
This would mean that an                                                low cost packed lunch every
additional 1 to 1.5 million         with school aged children.         day for their children) families,
children (1.3 million central       Extending FSM to all Universal     in cash terms, would be better
estimate – depending on effect      Credit recipients offers           off by between £78 and
of behavioural response on          substantially improved work        £247 per child receiving
FSM take-up rates), would           incentives. This is for three      FSM per year.44
receive FSM. Based on the           main reasons:
current average price of £367                                          3) The increases in income
per child, each year, (and          1) The earnings point at           required to overcome the
production cost of £43742),         which FSM are lost reflects        cliff edge are substantially
FSM entitlement could be            household circumstances            reduced.
extended to all children in         and is high up the income          This is because families no
families in receipt of Universal    distribution.                      longer entitled to FSM because
Credit for between £404m and        There would still be a point       their earnings are too high,
£625m per year (depending           at which entitlement to FSM        keep a higher proportion of
upon behavioural responses          is lost, however, the earnings     any additional earnings than
impacting on take-up rates),        point at which this threshold is   those who are still in receipt
with a central estimate of          reached would be considerably      of Universal Credit. Basic
£502m per year.                     higher than those available        rate tax payers in receipt of
                                    under current financial            Universal Credit will keep as
This cost can be fully covered      constraints. This approach         little as 24p for each additional
by government, or as explained      would also reflect different       pound they earn; for those
in this appendix, part funded       household circumstances            whose earnings are too high to
by in-work families whose           (and in particular numbers         receive Universal Credit, they
children would gain entitlement     of children in the household)      will typically keep 68p for each
to FSM. The amount it would         since the larger the family        pound they earn.
cost government to give FSM         the higher the earnings point
to these children would vary        at which Universal Credit          As a result the significance of
depending on the amount             entitlement is lost.               the benefit ‘cliff edge’ is greatly
that the income disregard                                              reduced, since the household
was reduced. The cost to            2) In-work parents will            will need to earn considerably
government could be reduced         experience an increase in their    less to overcome the effective
to between £231m and £367m          disposable incomes.                cut in household income
(depending upon response in         Parents who are already in         caused by the loss of FSM.
take-up rates), central estimate    work, or move into work,
of £291m, were a reduction in       will experience an increase
household income disregards         in their disposable incomes,
of around £5 applied for each       regardless of whether the
child receiving FSM in the          extension of FSM to all families
household.                          in receipt of Universal Credit

                                                                                        Fair and square 19
Appendix 2: Extending free school meals to all children
in families in receipt of Universal Credit – policy costings

Proposed policy options: costs to government and in-work families (£ million)
              Annual estimates additional to Spending Review
 In-work       Additional   Total       No.        In-work                                           Required      Proportion
 families      government   additional  additional families                                          Universal     government
 contributions contribution annual cost children   contribution                                      Credit        additional
  			                                   receiving  per child                                         income
				                                    FSM        per week (£)                                      disregard
						                                                                                               reduction
						                                                                                               per child (£)

 In-work families part-fund through £5 income disregard reduction
 Decreased
 take-up      173.2            230.8             404.0           1,025,000           3.25                5.00             57%
 Constant
 take-up       211.3             291.1           502.4           1,250,000           3.25                5.00             58%
 Increased
 take-up     258.8              366.5            625.3               1,531,250       3.25                5.00             59%

 Government funds full additional cost
 Decreased
 take-up        0.0            404.0             404.0           1,025,000           0.00                0.00            100%
 Constant
 take-up        0.0            502.4             502.4           1,250,000           0.00                0.00            100%
 Increased
 take-up        0.0             625.3            625.3               1,531,250       0.00                0.00            100%

Proposed policy options: range of costs to government (£ million)
                                               Decreased take-up                 Constant take-up            Increased take-up
 In-work families part-fund additional cost                  230.8                           291.1                      366.5
 Government funds full additional cost                      404.0                           502.4                       625.3

Key assumptions
 Variable                      Assumptions

  umber of children
 N                           • We estimate that 1 million children are currently receiving FSM (See Chapter 3).
 currently receiving FSM

  umber of eligible
 N                           • There are 7.5 million children of school age in state maintained schools in England45
 children under                We also know that 50% of all UK children are estimated to be in households eligible to
 policy proposal               receive Universal Credit.46 Therefore we assume that 3.75 million English school children
                               will be eligible for Universal Credit under our policy proposal.
                             • We assume a 90% Universal Credit take up rate (see below) therefore we assume that
                               3.38 million children will be in families eligible for FSM.

  verage cost of
 A                           • Latest annual survey of take-up of school meals47 estimated that the average annual cost
 school meals                  of school meals across all schools was around £367 per child in 2010/11.
                             • Increasing take-up could allow for providers to take advantage of economies of scale
                               resulting in a reduced average cost per school meal produced. An evaluation of the
                               FSM extension in Scotland48 found mixed effects of the extension on average costs.
                               We therefore assume there is negligible impact of economies of scale on average meal
                               costs, although this may be a conservative estimate if providers can reduce costs in
                               response to a significant increase in demand.

20 Fair and square
Variable                  Assumptions

FSM take-up rates        • We have calculated that the current rate of take-up of FSM by those eligible for them is
                           two-thirds (see Chapter 3).
                         • There is a lack of robust evidence on the potential behavioural response, of either the
                           families whose children are already eligible for FSM or the families who become eligible
                           for FSM, to an increase in number of children eligible for FSM. We have therefore provided
                           a range of potential take-up rates once eligibility is extended. A decreased take-up rate is
                           estimated at 60% and an increased take-up rate is estimated at 75%.

Universal Credit        • The take up rate for Child Tax Credits is 80%49 we use this as an example of take-up of an
 take-up rates             existing benefit by families.
                         • Department for Work and Pensions Universal Credit assumptions are that 100% of existing
                           benefit claimants will take-up Universal Credit and that 50% of those not currently
                           claiming benefits will do so under Universal Credit.50
                         • Therefore we assume 90% of families entitled to Universal Credit will take it up –
                           (100% x 80%) + (50% x 20%) = 90%

Savings produced        • Universal Credit works on the basis that a certain amount of household earnings is
 by a reduction in         ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of means testing for Universal Credit entitlement.
 earnings disregards
                         • The calculations above assume that a £5 per week reduction in the disregard will reduce
                           Universal Credit entitlement for working households by around £3.25 per week – meaning
                           that working households effectively contribute £3.25 per week, or £4.45 per FSM week
                           (38 school weeks in the school year) per child, towards each week of FSM they receive.
                           This is on the basis of a withdrawal rate of 65% for Universal Credit; each £1 of earnings
                           disregarded is worth 65p to households who are receiving Universal Credit and who have
                           earnings above the level of the earnings disregard.
                         • There will be some working households on the margins that will not be able to make
                           the full level of contribution to their FSM entitlement. This is either where (1) earnings
                           are below the current level of earnings disregard, so they will not see the full impact of a
                           reduction in the disregard level, or (2) Universal Credit entitlement is so low that the full
                           level of contribution cannot be deducted before entitlement reaches £0. We have not
                           included these circumstances into the cost model, as there is likely to be a small number
                           of households in these circumstances.

Payment for out-of-     • Current FSM policy provides meals to out-of-work households. We assume that the
 work households           Government continues to fund 100% of the cost of school meals for those families who
                           are out-of-work.

Additional cost of      • The price of school meals are typically subsidised, so that the price to parents at the point
 higher overall school     of delivery, is lower than the cost of production. School Food Trust survey data puts the
 meal take up              average cost of production of a school meal at £437 per year,51 this is £70 per year higher
                           than the average price of the meal (£367).
                         • FSMs have higher take up rates than paid for school meals – as a result costing the
                           extension of FSM should take into account the likelihood of increased overall take up of
                           school meals, and the additional cost-over-price of these additional meals.
                         • Extension of entitlement to free school meals to all children in families in receipt of
                           Universal Credit, is estimated to mean that 1.9 million more children are entitled to receive
                           FSM (3.4m compared to 1.5m at present).
                         • Based on an average take up rate of 33% for children not registered for FSM52 we may
                           estimate that around 630,000 of these children are already receiving school meals.
                         • The take up rate for FSM is substantially higher than school meals (around 67% of children
                           in families entitled to receive free school meals take them up each day). It is therefore
                           estimated that at a constant take up rate, of the 1.9 million children entitled around 1.3
                           million children will take them up.
                         • Therefore, an estimated additional 620,000 children (1.3 million additional FSM take up,
                           minus 630,000 already taking up paid for lunches who we assume will all take up the free
                           lunch option) will receive school meals.
                         • The cost-over-price of extending FSM to these children is estimated at £70 per year per
                           child, or a total of £44 million per year.
                           (If the FSM take-up rate dropped to 60% following extension, the additional cost-over-
                           price of higher overall school meal take up would be in the region of £28 million, if take-up
                           increased to 75%, the additional cost-over-price would be around £63 million.)

                                                                                                        Fair and square 21
Endnotes

1.    ee for example: Berlot, M., James, J. (2009) Healthy School Meals and Educational Outcomes Institute for Economic and Social
     S
     Research Working Paper; School Meals Review Panel (2005) Turning the tables: transforming school food
2. S
    chool Food Trust (2007) School lunch and behaviour: systematic observation of classroom behaviour following a school dining
   room intervention; School Food Trust (2009) School lunch and learning behaviour in primary schools: an intervention study; School
   Food Trust (2009) School lunch and learning behaviour in secondary schools: an intervention study
3. C
    hildren are said to be living in poverty if they are in a household living on less than 60% of median household income after the
   deduction of housing costs.
4. In England, children are entitled to receive FSM if their families receive: Income Support, income based Job Seeker’s Allowance, or
    income related Employment and Support Allowance, the Guarantee credit of Pension Credit, or Child Tax Credit (CTC) and have
    annual income of £16,190 or less. However, this does not apply if the family is receiving working tax credit (WTC) unless this is during
    the four week ‘WTC run on’ period.
5. www.islington.gov.uk/education/studentsupport/free_school_meals.asp
6. 2
    9% of children live in a household on less than 60% of median household income (after housing costs) (DWP (2011) ‘Households
   Below Average Income: An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2009/10’ London: DWP)  This equates to around 2.2 million
   children in state schools in England.
7.   Assuming all children in receipt of FSM are in poverty.  The number is likely to be somewhat higher since some children in households
     entitled to FSM will not be in poverty.
8. Department for Education (2011)  ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics January 2011’ London: DfE
9. H
    MRC statistics show that in December 2011, 2.669 million children were in families either receiving child tax credit only, (or the
   child premium on income support) and this support was not tapered (i.e. had income of under £15,860).  www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/
   personal-tax-credits/cwtc-dec2011.pdf Based on 13 million children in the UK, this equates to around 20.5% of all children.
10. D
     epartment for Education (2011) ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics January 2011’ Table 3a: www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/
    DB/SFR/s001012/sfr12-2011.pdf note that registrations for FSM have increased substantially in recent years, they may have increased
    since January 2011.
11. England only.
12. A
     ssumes equal distribution of pupils in primary and secondary school – in fact around 55% of all children are in primary and 45% in
    secondary school.
13. DWP (2011) ‘Households Below Average Income: An analysis of the income distribution 1994/95 – 2009/10’ London: DWP
14. M
     ichael Nelson, Jo Nicholas, Lesley Wood, Ellen Lever, Laura Simpson and Beverley Baker (2011) ‘Sixth annual survey of take up of
    school lunches in England’ School Food Trust/LACA
15. www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_200057
16. F
     or example, eligibility criteria for Leeds school clothing allowance:
    www.leeds.gov.uk/Advice_and_benefits/Benefits/Free_school_meals.aspx
17. F
     or example Bracknell Forest ‘junior leisure saver scheme’
    www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/leisure-saver-scheme-application-form-for-juniors.pdf
18. P
     amela Storey and Rosemary Chamberlain (2001) Improving the Take Up of FSM, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of
    Education
19. Bradshaw (2002) The well-being of children in the UK Save the Children, London
20. 4% of children aged 2-10 obese and one-third (33.6 per cent) of Year six children overweight or obese
     www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Obesity/DH_078098
21. BBC News (2010) Healthy Lunch Boxes a Rarity. Available: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8451828.stm (Accessed 19 Mar, 2012)
22. School Meals Review Panel (2005) Turning the tables: transforming school food.  Sheffield: School Food Trust
23. www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/the-standards
24. S
     chool Food Trust (2009) School lunch and learning behaviour in primary schools: an intervention study. Sheffield: School Food
    Trust; School Food Trust (2009) School lunch and learning behaviour in secondary schools: an intervention study.  Sheffield: School
    Food Trust
25. www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Obesity/index.htm
26. Nelson, M., Erens, B., Bates, B., Church, S., Boshier, T. (2007) Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey London: Food Standards Agency
27. At pg 150, Flaherty, Veit-Wilson, Dornan (2004) Poverty: the facts, 5th edition. Child Poverty Action Group, London
28. Belot and James (2011) Healthy school meals and Educational Outcomes, Journal of Health Economics 30(3), 489-504
29. Existing claimants will be transferred onto the Universal Credit between 2013 and 2017.
30. DWP (2010) ‘Universal Credit: Welfare that works’ London: DWP (p48)
31. Based on out of work benefit levels for Feb 2012.
32. £1100 annual value for three children is worth £21 per week when divided equally across the course of the year.

22 Fair and square
You can also read
Next slide ... Cancel