The majority of the British public supports free school meals for infant students – with strong support from both Labour and Lib Dem voters
Nick Clegg announced to his party conference this week that all children at infant school in England will receive free school meals. The plan is to extend the current free school meals scheme, currently only available to children whose parents earn under £16,109 a year or are on benefits, to all school children in their first 3 years of primary school.
A YouGov poll for the Times shows the proposal is supported by the majority of the British public.
53% of the British public think that children should be provided with a meal at school without parents having to pay, compared to 36% who feel that the money could be better spent elsewhere.
The scheme will begin in England from next September and support for the policy amongst the English public is at 52%, with 38% opposed. Money has been set aside for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish schools to follow suit but it will be up to their respective devolved governments to decide whether to spend it on free school meals.
Support for the policy is strongest amongst Labour voters (61%), who are closely followed by Lib Dems (59%). Conservative voters are the least likely to support the policy (49%), with 46% believing the money could be better spent elsewhere.
Lib Dem education minister David Laws claimed the scheme would remove the stigma associated with receiving free school meals and increase uptake across all income brackets - including those currently entitled.Image: Getty