The policy change on free school meals
A Government policy change in April 2022 means that children living in poverty whose families are otherwise cut off from the welfare safety net because of their immigration status are now, in theory, eligible for free school meals.
An estimated 2 million people in the UK don’t have access to the welfare safety net because of conditions placed on their immigration status (known as the No Recourse to Public Funds policy, or NRPF). Until recently, this included preventing children from accessing free school meals even if their families were facing poverty or crisis.
In April 2022, after years of campaigning by charities, including Praxis, the Department for Education made free school meals permanently available to families affected by this policy who meet the eligibility criteria. Critically, this includes children whose families may have irregular immigration status (referred to by some as “undocumented.”)
This was a very welcome decision that should allow thousands of children living in poverty to access one nutritious meal a day. This change also allows schools to get further funding through the pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged children.