Labour Party Press Release:
The Government has admitted Universal Credit could cost taxpayers an additional £750 million after failing to decide how free school meals will work alongside the crisis-hit programme.
In response to a Parliamentary Question, Schools Minister David Laws said the additional cost of extending free school meals to all families in receipt of Universal Credit could reach £750 million a year.
Under the current system, eligibility for free school meals is decided by certain benefits received by families such as income support.
However because Universal Credit is set to replace existing benefits, including in-work benefits, and will be claimed by families not currently in receipt of free school meals, the Government must decide on new eligibility criteria.
Since 2011, Labour has consistently asked questions on the issue but the Tory-led Government has still not decided what the Free School Meals criteria will be despite repeated assurances.
Until it reaches a decision it has said that all children in households receiving Universal Credit will automatically be eligible for free school meals – which could result in an extra £750 million of government spending.
Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform, said:
“Ministers have ignored warnings about Universal Credit and free school meals for years.
“Now they have admitted the cost of their incompetence could reach £750 million.
“David Cameron must urgently get a grip of this latest Universal Credit fiasco with threatens to cost taxpayers millions of pounds.”