'Appalling' – £7,400 free school meals cap has not increased in six years

Hundreds of thousands of pupils living in poverty are still not getting free school meals due to the “very low” income cap of £7,400 on eligibility – a cap that has not increased since it was introduced six years ago.
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Analysis of government data this week by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) estimates that as many as 900,000 children who are living in poverty do not qualify for FSMs due to the restrictive criteria.

FSMs are universal for children in reception and years 1 and 2, but are means-tested from year 3. For a family on Universal Credit to qualify, their combined household income must be £7,400 or less excluding benefit payments.

Increasingly, however, local areas are introducing universal FSMs to some degree. This includes Southwark, Newham, Islington, Westminster and Tower Hamlets in London, which all offer universal FSMs for primary children, with Tower Hamlets recently announcing the roll-out of universal FSMs, in secondary schools.

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