Government extends free school meals to thousands of children in response to MG&Co letter-before-claim

In response to MG&Co’s letter threatening judicial review on behalf of six children, the Secretary of State for Education has agreed to extend free school meal entitlement during the current Covid-19 crisis.

The original eligibility criteria required parents to be claiming certain welfare benefits. It therefore resulted in children from some of the poorest households being excluded from coronavirus free school meals entitlement because their parents’ could not claim these benefits due to their immigration status.

Following our letter the government has agreed to extend eligibility to children from the following groups, provided their families meet the usual income threshold for free school meals:

  • Children whose parents are Zambrano Carers, namely those who are non-EEA national primary carers of British Citizen children;
  • Children from families who have been granted leave to remain under Article 8 of the ECHR subject to a no recourse to public funds (NRPF) restriction;
  • Children whose families have no recourse to public funds who receive support pursuant to section 17 of the Children Act 1989 from their local authority; and
  • Children of failed seeker families receiving section 4 support.

The extension of the Covid 19: school meals policy means that thousands more children will now be able to access school meals and/or £15 weekly vouchers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government has said that the extension will be applied for such a period as is considered appropriate in light of the coronavirus crisis.

Rachel Etheridge of MG&Co says,

“We at MG&Co are thrilled that in response to our clients’ pre-action letter the Government has agreed to extend entitlement for free school meals to our clients and many other children from families with no recourse to public funds.

The extension means that thousands of vulnerable and economically disadvantaged children will now be eligible for the Government’s Covid 19 free school meals scheme thereby helping to ensure these children will not go hungry.

Our clients, and the wider group they represent, are amongst the very poorest and vulnerable in society. We believe that no child should go hungry because of the immigration status of their parents.

Whilst the Government has stated that the extension is only temporary, this important step shines a light on the need to pay greater attention to the economic hardship suffered by this community during this particular crisis as well as more generally as a direct result of the Government’s hostile environment”.

Questions can be directed to Rachel Etheridge of Matthew Gold & Co who acts for the clients.