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Labour has lost its bid to stop more than one million children losing their entitlement to free school meals.
MPs voted against the attempt made by Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, to block Government changes to Universal Credit rules, which will see a new £7,400 earnings threshold for free school meals eligibility.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she said the changes would affect "families and their children, particularly those already struggling to get by".
She added: “Many people, including MPs, wrongly believe that all children in poverty already get free school meals. That is not currently the case, but under the transitional protections under Universal Credit, those million children would be entitled to that benefit. It's through this secondary legislation that they're pulling the rug from underneath those families.”
She continued: “I remember when the Prime Minister said that the mission of her Government was the acronym 'JAMs'. I’m starting to think it just stood for 'just about May’s survival'."
Currently, all children from households claiming Universal Credit are eligible for free meals under transitional arrangements, but under Government reforms, only families with net earnings of up to £7,400 will be entitled.
The Labour party argue that around one million children, who would have become eligible, will lose that entitlement from April when the new rules are introduced.
However, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, has accused Labour of ‘scaremongering’, saying that under its new system, 50,000 more children will be eligible for free school meals than before Universal Credit was introduced.
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “No child who is currently receiving a free school meal will lose out as a result of this change and it is misleading to suggest otherwise.
“The fact is under our new criteria, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. It’s right that we make sure this support reaches children from the most disadvantaged families.”
The change is one of four Government plans that Labour called for a vote on. These are proposals to end childcare vouchers, as well as changes to free childcare for two-year-olds and further changes to Universal Credit.