The Government must extend free school meals to pupils from low-income migrant families to stop thousands of children going hungry, according to a collective of dozens of charities.
In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson, organisations including The Children’s Society, UNISON, Action for Children and Project 17 demanded permanent legislative change to protect children whose families have no recourse to public funds.
The ‘hostile environment’ policy means households who haven’t yet qualified for permanent residency in the UK are not entitled to support through the welfare system like Universal Credit, tax credits and in many cases free school meals.
The letter read: “The forthcoming school year will be hugely challenging for every child, but whether a child is able to eat and learn should not depend on their parents’ status.
“The Government must not allow any child living in poverty to fall behind at such a pivotal moment in their lives – now and in the future.”
Research by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford showed that by the end of last year, nearly 176,000 non-EEA children were living in families with no recourse to public funds – an increase of roughly 33,000 since 2016.