• Antonia Ryan

Government use out of date data to calculate Free School Meals - Central Beds schools affected

Today I have written to Marcel Coiffait, Chief Executive of Central Council highlighting my deep concern on how the Conservative Government is allocating money for disadvantaged families, this leaving Central Bedfordshire missing out of funding worth over £450k.

The Pupil Premium Grant is extra school funding designed to help the most disadvantaged children and as announced will not be applied to the new claimants of free school meals after October 2020. And I can only conclude that this Government has sought to ignore new claims for free school meals when calculating and used out of date data.

In Central Bedfordshire, the figures show an additional 1000 pupils began claiming free school meal between January 2020 to January 2021. And in my own ward of Houghton Regis, there has been an increase of over 100 (20%) students most of primary age, who rely on meals to be provided by the school and these who will be hit by the funding changes.

We cannot allow these children to miss out and it is time for this council to be robust enough to challenge the Government and be the voice of the most disadvantaged. We need this Council, to not only be supporting grassroots campaigns but also lobbying the Government on the damage this will cause to our communities.

At the end of last year, I wrote to the Director of Children Services and every Councillor requesting a Poverty Task Force be established, subsequently this was agreed at full Council. Given the time that has lapsed it is disappointing we are yet to see any results. With the challenges outlined above we now need this Council to lead the way in tackling inequality.

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