Families and schools losing out with free school meals unclaimed

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

More than 40 per cent of children classed as living in poverty in this part of Lincolnshire are not receiving free school meals.

Figures released by The Children’s Society show that a total of 42 per cent of children on very low incomes are missing out on the free meals in the Boston and Skegness parliamentary constituency.

The amount is significantly higher than the East Midlands average of 28 per cent.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Many low-income families are unable to get free school meals simply because their parents are working – no matter how little they earn.

“For parents in poverty, finding the £370 a year needed for each child’s school meal often means struggling to provide their children with the basics, including buying them shoes for school and heating the home.”

The situation is one which funding provider Lincolnshire County Council has sympathy with.

Coun Patricia Bradwell, Executive Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “In Lincolnshire, an estimated 4,000 children – 20 per cent of those entitled – are currently missing out on free school meals.

That leaves parents in poorer households with less money to spend on other essentials.

“What’s more, when parents don’t claim, the schools lose a £623 ‘pupil premium’ they get for every child registered for free school meals.

“So we want more parents to come forward and claim for what they are entitled to – free, nutritious school meals for their children which will help towards a healthy balanced diet.”