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.
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.”