MG&Co challenge the exclusion of most deprived and vulnerable children from coronavirus free school meals scheme

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson announced that “no child should go hungry as a result of measures introduced to keep people at home”. To meet that aim the government issued guidance providing that schools should continue to provide meals or vouchers for eligible children whilst schools remain closed due to the coronavirus.

However, only children whose parents claim prescribed welfare benefits will be entitled to this support, meaning that those children whose parents have No Recourse to Public Funds due to their immigration status will be ineligible.

Families with NRPF are frequently the poorest in the UK with income often less than half that which a family on mainstream benefits receive and are already struggling with escalating costs and difficulty in buying food and other essentials. Consequently, the eligibility criteria adopted by the government means that many of the poorest children in the UK will go hungry.

We act for a number of families challenging the lawfulness of the eligibility criteria for claiming this free school meal support during the coronavirus crisis. We have sent a Letter Before Claim to the Secretary of State and a response is awaited.

Solicitor Rachel Etheridge says:

“The Secretary of State publicly stated that no child should go hungry as a result of measures enacted to try and tackle the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately by excluding some of the poorest children from this scheme, this is exactly what will happen. We hope that the government will do the right thing and extend the scheme to all children from economically deprived backgrounds regardless of the immigration status of their parents”.