Advertisement
Social Justice

Families denied welfare due to immigration rules can now apply for free school meals

The Department for Education announced all families with no recourse to public funds will be able to apply for free school meals on a permanent basis.

Children living in poverty whose families are locked out of the welfare system because of their immigration status will now have permanent access to free school meals, the government has confirmed.

The Department for Education on Thursday announced it would extend access to free school meals to all families affected by the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy who are living in poverty, following a two-year review.

It makes permanent changes made during the pandemic, when the government granted free school meals access to thousands of children from families with NRPF.

Subscribe to The Big Issue

Support us

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.

Estimates suggest there are 175,000 children from families with NRPF in the UK, though not all will be living in poverty and require free school meals. Children living in poverty with NRPF are not the only
group who had been denied access to free school meals. Child Poverty Action Group has estimated one million children living in poverty miss out because of strict eligibility rules.

Migrant and refugee charity Praxis has led the campaign for access to be made permanent. Following the DfE’s decision, its policy and public affairs manager Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz said: “This ensures that children living in poverty, who were previously denied access to the welfare safety net by their family’s immigration status, get guaranteed access to one hot, freshly cooked and nutritionally balanced meal a day.

“At a time when the cost of living is rising rapidly, this decision could not come at a better time for many of the families we work with.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Announcing the new rules, MP Will Quince said: “In 2020, we temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have NPRF. I am pleased to confirm that, following a cross-government review, we will permanently extend eligibility for free school meals to children from all families with NRPF, subject to income thresholds.”

He added: “These healthy, nutritious meals ensure that children up and down the country are well-nourished, develop healthy eating habits, and can concentrate, learn and achieve in the classroom.”

Break the cycle of poverty for good
Big Futures is calling on the Government to put in place a plan and policies to break this cycle of poverty for good. We are calling for long-term solutions to meet the biggest issues faced in the UK today – the housing crisis, low wages and the climate crisis. Dealing with these issues will help the UK to protect the environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing of future generations. So that young people and future generations have a fair shot at life. Join us and demand a better future.

Whitaker-Yilmaz added that it remained unclear whether the new rules will apply to children in families with insecure or irregular status, who are among the most excluded in our society, and called on the DfE to make it clear.

Anna Berry (not her real name) from the No Recourse to Public Funds Action Group, which is made up of people with experience of NRPF, added: “We are tremendously happy to hear today’s good news. This promising development gives us hope. It is so important to safeguard children.

“This is a step further on our quest: we are closer to ensuring that one of the most basic rights of children, to be well nourished, are being met.

“We are not resting on our laurels, there are more battles to fight. We are glad to see the government is listening to us and our voices are being heard. We are looking forward to achieving more of our aims.”

Advertisement

Every copy counts this Christmas

Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.

Recommended for you

Read All
Legacy benefits court case: Why claimants are still fighting for the £20 universal credit uplift
Legacy benefits

Legacy benefits court case: Why claimants are still fighting for the £20 universal credit uplift

Will the government's £18m public information campaign actually help people living in poverty?
Energy bills

Will the government's £18m public information campaign actually help people living in poverty?

Martin Lewis calls for action on debt collectors as stark attempted suicide figures revealed
Debt

Martin Lewis calls for action on debt collectors as stark attempted suicide figures revealed

All the cost of living help available from the government, energy companies, councils and charities
Cost of living crisis

All the cost of living help available from the government, energy companies, councils and charities

Most Popular

Read All
'Robert Smith isn’t people’s perceptions': Stories behind classic photos of The Cure
1.

'Robert Smith isn’t people’s perceptions': Stories behind classic photos of The Cure

David Jason: 'I find it difficult to believe that Del Boy is so beloved'
2.

David Jason: 'I find it difficult to believe that Del Boy is so beloved'

Postal strikes dates: When are the Royal Mail walkouts this December 2022 and why?
3.

Postal strikes dates: When are the Royal Mail walkouts this December 2022 and why?

All the amazing things Sadio Mané has done for charity
4.

All the amazing things Sadio Mané has done for charity