Primary schools in Brent face bill for government free lunch scheme

All schoolchildren aged four - seven are entitled to a free school meal (Pic credit: PA)

All schoolchildren aged four - seven are entitled to a free school meal (Pic credit: PA) - Credit: Archant

Primary schools in Brent will have to dip into their own money to deliver a government scheme providing free school meals to pupils because of a shortfall in funding, it has been claimed.

Primary schools in Brent will have to dip into their own money to deliver a government scheme providing free school meals to pupils because of a shortfall in funding, it has been claimed.

Brent Council was awarded £832,000 to roll out the scheme where every five to seven-year-old across England will receive a free lunch yesterday.

However according to Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of the council, the government funding to ensure schools are equipped and have the appropriate kitchen facilities to provide a nutritious meal to children is £200,000 less than needed.

He said: “It is a noble idea but they [the government] have failed to provide the adequate funding to make it all work.


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“The schools, which are already under a lot of pressure to expand to accommodate a growing population, will have to find that money from somewhere. It raises the question: what will suffer because of it?”

The new initiative was first announced by Nick Clegg last year to help improve concentration and raise educational performances in primary schools.

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Last month, the Local Government Association estimates that there is a total budget deficit of more than £25 million for councils across the UK to ensure that schools in their area were prepared for the new program.

A department for education spokesman said an additional £3.48 million will be given to Brent Council over the next two years to pay for the cost of providing the meals.

He added: “Schools and local authorities in the area have also received £832,000 of additional capital to help upgrade facilities, and we have allocated an extra £9,400 specifically to help small schools.”

“According to councils and schools themselves, schools are on track to be serving free meals from the beginning of term,” he continued.

“Where schools have had difficulties we have offered them support through our free implementation support service which is operated and run by school food experts.”

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