A £600 million budget to give every young pupil free school meals would be better spent on helping the most disadvantaged infants, poverty campaigners said last night.
The introduction of free school lunches for pupils in the first three years of school will be announced today by Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat conference. The policy will give families of young children savings worth at least £400 a year from next September, eight months before the general election.
Although welcomed by some, others noted how it was strikingly at odds with cuts to other universal benefits such as child benefit, and asked how it would be funded.
It was attacked by the Right as a “gimmick” and “middle-class welfare”. Mark Littlewood, the director-general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “This is an enormously bad use of public money. “The Government already ensures that those in need have access to free school meals, so it beggars belief that we are now going to see a policy which will subsidise the children of affluent families.”
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