Protection pledge for pupils on free school meals as Universal Credit switch approaches

School leaders have welcomed government plans to protect Pupil Premium students who are at risk of losing out because of the change to Universal Credit.

Consultation proposals have been published by the Department for Education (DfE) about how free school meals (FSM) and Pupil Premium eligibility will work under the new Universal Credit benefits programme.

The DfE has said that its proposals will protect any pupils who would otherwise lose entitlement to FSM under Universal Credit. Furthermore, it claims that under the plans up to 50,000 more young people should be eligible for FSM once Universal Credit is fully rolled out.

The consultation proposes changing the eligibility criteria to base it on a household’s net earnings, rather than the number of hours worked. A household’s net earnings do not include their additional income through benefits.

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