Labour have today announced their intention to have free school meals for every child in primary schools.
The policy will be funded by putting VAT on private school fees, and is hoped to reduce the attainment gap.
Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the National Centre for Social Research has shown that universal school meal provision improves educational attainment, allowing children to advance by two months on average.
There is also a belief that making free school meal provision universal removes the stigma attached to it, whereas presently only the poorest children get free dinners.
Free school meals were provided under the coalition, a policy led on by Nick Clegg, for all infant pupils.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, is expected to say at the launch event in Lancashire:
“The Government’s cuts to the school budget are making school meals worse and limiting the number of children that can be fed. This decision affects the educational attainment and health of pupils.
“While the Conservatives offer tax giveaways to their billionaire friends, they are cutting the schools budget and threatening the health and futures of all our children by denying children the basic right of a healthy lunch at school. By investing in our education system and providing free school meals for every primary school child, we will remove the stigma attached to free school meals, and improve health and attainment for all children.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, will say:
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“No child in the UK should go hungry at school. By charging VAT on private schools fees, Labour will make sure all primary school children, no matter what their background, get a healthy meal at school.
“The next Labour Government will provide all primary school children with a free school meal, invest in our schools, and make sure no child is held back because of their background.”