Sadiq Khan calls for free school meals at all London schools

Eighteen per cent of Londoners are financially struggling, with nearly one in three just about managing (PA)
Eighteen per cent of Londoners are financially struggling, with nearly one in three just about managing (PA)

Sadiq Khan has called on the government to provide free school meals to all primary school children as households continue to feel the effects of the cost of living crisis.

Following last week’s autumn statement, the mayor of London is urging the government to support struggling Londoners, with many anxious about how they will cope in the months ahead.

Mr Khan’s calls to the government come after The Independent launched its Feed the Future campaign, which urges the government to extend free school meals to all children living in poverty, even if they are not eligible.

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Currently, 800,000 children across the UK live in households on universal credit but do not qualify for free school meals because their parents earn more than £7,400 a year, excluding benefits.

“The spiralling cost of living is hitting Londoners very hard and without urgent action from the government millions of people will be wondering how they will cope this winter,” said Mr Khan.

“I’m doing all I can to support Londoners and try to build a fairer and more prosperous city for all Londoners, but government needs to step forward with action now and use the powers it has to ensure that the most vulnerable are helped this winter and not abandoned to deal with this crisis alone.”

A recent YouGov poll showed that the cost of living crisis is hitting people in the capital hard, with 8 per cent occasionally going without food, and 6 per cent regularly going without food over the last six months.

It also found 18 per cent of Londoners are financially struggling, with nearly one in three just about managing.

A whopping 86 per cent of Londoners experiencing financial hardship think they will struggle to afford their regular household shop in the next six months.

Katherine Hill, Strategic Project Manager at 4in10 London’s Child Poverty Network, a campaigning network working to end poverty in London, supported Mr Khan’s calls to the government to widen its accessibility to free school meals.

She said: “As the cost of living crisis deepens and winter approaches the situation for many families on low incomes is becoming more serious by the day, as these figures show.

“While the recent announcement of increased benefit rates from next April is welcome, more help is needed for families who are struggling to pay their bills today. Free school meals for all children would be a significant step in the right direction towards ensuring that their basic right to food is met this winter.”