HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 c170W
Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many children were eligible for free school meals in 1985; and how many are currently eligible.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

In 1985, children in families receiving supplementary benefit or family income supplement were eligible for free school meals. The number of children of school age, aged five and over, in such families at that time was:

Supplementary Benefit 1 1,431,000
Family Income Supplement 2288,000
1 February 1986: the nearest date for which information is available.
2 October 1985.

No information is available about the number of children eligible under the local authority discretionary schemes which existed in 1985.

Currently, only children in families receiving income support are eligible for free school meals. The latest information relates to May 1989 when there were 1,309,000 children aged five or over in such families. When family credit replaced family income supplement in 1988 the children's rates were set at a higher level to provide help in cash in place of free school meals. In April 1990 there were 446,000 children aged five or over in family credit families.