London Mayor Sadiq Khan's announcement to provide free school meals to every primary school pupil in the capital for the 2023-2024 academic year has been welcomed by Debt Free Advice.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan's announcement to provide free school meals to every primary school pupil in the capital for the 2023-2024 academic year has been welcomed by Debt Free Advice. This initiative will provide much-needed support to families struggling to make ends meet, particularly as many Londoners are experiencing the impact of the cost of living crisis.
The research from Debt Free Advice shows that in January 2023, we have seen a 50% increase in the number of inquiries compared to the same month last year. We have also seen a 47.4% and 44.4% increase in people coming to the service with gas and electric arrears, respectively. Shockingly, our advisors have reported that 22% of new cases this year are in need of a food bank.
Universal free school meals create dignity for children. We know from our work on ‘poverty-proofing’ the school day in Tower Hamlets that universal free school meals protect children from the stigma of poverty, which can have crushing effects on self-esteem.
Debt Free Advice supports the National Education Union's campaign for Free School Meals for All. We believe that free school meals need to be available to all primary school children in the UK. You can join the campaign here: https://freeschoolmealsforall.org.uk/take-action.
The statistics highlight the urgent need for more support for families and children across London who are struggling to make ends meet. Debt Free Advice is here to help with free and impartial advice for those worried about the cost-of-living with bills they can't pay. Reach out to us for help on 0800 808 5700 open 8am-8pm, 7 days a week.
This initiative from the Mayor is a significant step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity. Debt Free Advice remains committed to supporting those most in need in our communities. We call on the government to do more to support those who are struggling to make ends meet.