Children in the UK are still going hungry in 2018. We are focusing on two key policy issues to help make sure this becomes a thing of the past.

Read our update on progress made against each APPG policy recommendation to end childhood hunger here

Holiday provision

In September 2017, Frank Field MP introduced a Bill to the House of Commons, with cross party backing, which sought to enact the APPG’s main recommendations on countering hunger amongst children during school holidays. The Bill would give local authorities both the duties and the resources they need to facilitate free meal and fun projects during school holidays.

At the Bill’s second reading in January 2018, the Bill did not progress, but the Minister for Children and Families confirmed that the Government will provide funding for research and pilots on holiday provision, due to begin in Summer 2018. These will generate data on the effectiveness of holiday provision, and the most appropriate models. Further national roll out will be based on the results of these pilots.

Feeding Britain and the APPG on Hunger have provided information to the Department for Education (DfE) to help inform the initial research and pilots. The DfE has announced £2 million for initial pilots in Summer 2018 and will make further funding available for 2019 and beyond.

To find out more about the Bill, see our Campaigns Page.

Free school meals

Automatic registration

Free school meals make a huge difference to families, and we want to ensure that as many children as possible benefit from the support they are entitled to. By moving to automatic registration, where eligible children are identified and automatically signed up, rather than their parents having to apply individually, local authorities can dramatically increase take-up rates for free school meals. As well as providing a healthy meal each day at school for the child, this also ensures the school benefits from additional Pupil Premium funding to boost the life chances for children from deprived backgrounds.

Wirral Council adopted automatic registration for free school meals in 2016, a move which generated over £725,000 in Pupil Premium funding. We are working with other local authorities in our pilot areas to similarly set up automatic registration, and are also calling for changes to national policy to remove some of the barriers that currently make it difficult for local authorities to adopt this approach.

Feeding Britain and the APPG on Hunger has submitted a proposal to the DfE requiring that all application forms for school places ask for parents’ National Insurance number and seek consent for the data parents have submitted to be used to register their children for the relevant educational benefits including Free School Meals. 

Free school meals under Universal Credit

The Department for Education launched a public consultation on eligibility for Free School Meals under Universal Credit, to which Feeding Britain and several of our pilot areas responded. The Department’s response to the consultation was published in February 2018. The consultation contained a proposed earnings threshold to allow for working families’ entitlement to free school meals, once overall household income is factored in. The new earnings threshold will result in an additional 50,000 children gaining eligibility for FSMs, many of whom are from working families.

However there are concerns that the earnings threshold at its current level will results in a certain number of children from low income working families not receiving FSM, and the cliff edge could disincentive some low income workers from extending their hours as this would result in a loss of FSMs. We recommend that the threshold needs to continue to rise in line with inflation.

You can download and view a full report outlining progress made against each recommendation of  the APPG on Hunger to end Childhood Hunger: Childhood hunger policy update May 2018