Almost one million families could lose entitlement to free school meals under Universal Credit, warn Labour.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves says Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship welfare reform could devastate families and their children.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of existing benefit and rolling them into one single monthly payment. Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that 46,920 people were in receipt of the new benefit as of 12 March 2015.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Ms Reeves says: “Universal Credit is now being rolled out to families. But the Government hasn’t answered some ­fundamental questions, particularly about free school meals.

“Almost a million families get free school meals but there has been no commitment that this will continue under Universal Credit.”

Rachel Reeves
Rachel Reeves

She added that the Tories pledge of a further £12bn in welfare cuts could not be carried out without hurting children.

“The Government is now talking about savings of £12billion in the social security budget.

“There is no way you can make those sorts of cuts without hurting children and families. So I am very worried about what will happen to free schools meals.”

Ms Reeves also expressed her concerns over the future of children’s centres, warning that more could be forced to close their doors if the Tories are still in power after next months general election.

Reiterating Labour’s promise to scrap the hated ‘bedroom tax’, Ms Reeves said she would aim to end the devastating housing policy before going on maternity leave.

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