May ‘drops’ plans to axe free meals for infants from Queen’s Speech

Prime minister Theresa May has axed controversial plans to scrap free lunches for primary pupils and instead offer free breakfasts, according to reports today.

Several newspapers claim the plans – which would need legislation – will not be included in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow.

It follows a major fall-out over plans to axe free lunches for all five to seven years olds, which would save £650 million a year and which the Conservatives pledged to pump back into schools funding.

Instead schools were to be handed £60 million to provide free breakfasts, though the party backtracked on the costings after Schools Week revealed it worked out at just 7p per pupil.

The analysis was picked up by national media, and the Liberal Democrats even included the costing on an election poster.

It has also been reported that the Department for Education wasn’t even aware of the plans to scrap free lunches for all primary pupils.

However after the Conservative Party failed to secure a majority in the election this month, the policy appears to have been ditched.

A government source told the Evening Standard: “It would have involved going back to the House of Commons to try to change the Children and Families Act.

“It’s just not doable with the parliamentary arithmetic.”

Reacting to the news, the Liberal Democrat’s education spokesperson Layla Moran said: “Theresa May’s plans to snatch free school lunches from schoolchildren are now dead in the water.

“This is a victory for families across the country. Thousands of children living in poverty will now continue to receive a free nutritious meal a day.”

It is widely thought the government will also scale back on its plans to end the ban on opening new grammar schools – and instead could run a “modest trial”.

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