Free school meals are welcomed by council

WIGAN school chiefs are backing the Government’s proposal to provide free school meals for children up to the age of seven.

Council members have welcomed the announcement that the £600m plan will save families an average of £437 per child every year at a time when many are struggling financially. The plan will come into force next September.

Coun Susan Louden, cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “If the Government is planning to fully fund free school meals for all children up to the age of seven then on the face of it I would generally welcome this move.

“I would want to know that it is fully funded by Government not, like last time - asking us for 50 per cent of the cost; which the council may struggle to find.

“Finally, this proposal means every child, even families who do not need this financial support, will receive this benefit and If I had the choice I would target funding to the services supporting families who are struggling during the present economic crisis.”

John Hanley, headteacher of St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary, said: “It would be interesting to see the uptake and perhaps the money could be targeted in a different way to benefit hard pressed families more.

“At the moment there is a free fruit scheme for reception and I would assume that this would stop.”