Schools

Infant free school meals funding rises by 5% but still ‘falls short’

Government announces funding for meals for the youngest pupils will rise from £2.41 to £2.53

Government announces funding for meals for the youngest pupils will rise from £2.41 to £2.53

29 Jun 2023, 11:23

More from this author

free school meals

Government funding for universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) will rise by 5 per cent, but critics say the increase “falls far too short” of what is needed due to inflation.

Guidance published yesterday shows the funding for free school meals offered to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 will rise by 12p from £2.41 to £2.53 a meal.

The uplift will be backdated to April 1. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows inflation rose by 7.8 per cent in the 12 months to April 2023.

Brad Pearce, chair of LACA, which represents school food providers, said: “We recognise any increase in funding is a good thing”.

But he added that the rise for 2023-24 “falls far too short and the sums still don’t add up”.

“Government urgently needs to act now and increase funding in line with inflation of food and labour”.

When universal free meals for infants were introduced in 2014-15, the rate per meal was set at £2.30 and remained frozen in cash terms for the following five years.

Funding has not kept pace with inflation

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), this period saw the funding lose 8 per cent of its value in real terms, while subsequent rises have not kept up with inflation.

Last year, the funding rate for the meals rose by just 7p per meal.

The IFS estimated that if funding had kept pace with inflation, the rate per meal would now stand at £2.87.

Analysis by the National Education Union suggests the actual cost of providing meals is even higher – around £3.30 once rising food, energy and staff costs are taken into account.

James Bowen, assistant general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said the new rate would leave “many schools having to heavily subsidise the provision of free school meals from budgets already under considerable pressure”.

“Suppliers may have to pass on increased costs and while schools will work with them to try and maintain the quality of food provided, school leaders are facing impossible choices about where to cut spending.

“We need to see much more government investment in free school meals – not only to fully fund the costs of universal infant provision but also to expand eligibility for older children so that all pupils in households in receipt of universal credit receive them.”

Data published by the Department for Education earlier this month showed more than two million children are now eligible for means-tested free school meals.

Latest education roles from

Careers and Admissions Manager

Careers and Admissions Manager

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Teacher of Maths *Welcome Reward Available*

Teacher of Maths *Welcome Reward Available*

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Teacher of Science *Welcome Reward Available*

Teacher of Science *Welcome Reward Available*

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Teacher of Business *Welcome Reward Available*

Teacher of Business *Welcome Reward Available*

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Teacher of Science

Teacher of Science

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Deputy Principal Quality and Student Experience – Barnet and Southgate College

Deputy Principal Quality and Student Experience – Barnet and Southgate College

Haberdashers' Crayford Academy

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspire creativity in your classroom. Sky Arts’ Access All Arts week is back!

Now in its third year, Access All Arts week is a nationwide celebration of creativity for primary schools (17-21...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Unleash the Power of Sport in your setting this summer! National School Sports Week is back!

Unleash the Power of Sport this summer with National School Sports Week powered by Monster Kickabout! From 17-23 June,...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

The live broadcast designed to get more girls moving

Free to access and open to all students in years 7-11, Studio You is bringing together a panel of...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Schools

Hinds says ‘all schools’ restrict phones, and 5 more key findings

Schools minister also says the 'option' of statutory mobile phone guidance remains

Freddie Whittaker
Schools

CST calls for policy changes over ‘unsustainable’ parent complaints

Academy body says rise in complaints is putting 'significant pressure on school leaders’

Jack Dyson
Schools

Poverty: Trusts spend six-figure sums to support ‘crisis’ families

News comes amid calls for chancellor Jeremy Hunt to hand out more education cash in next week's budget

Jack Dyson
Schools

Heads and teachers working longer despite workload push

Key government workforce survey reveals longer working weeks, less job satisfaction and more anxiety

Samantha Booth

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *