Autumn Budget 2021
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the autumn Budget statement and outcomes of the Spending Review.
The Budget states that “Supporting families and children across the country to get the best start in life is a crucial part of the government’s ambition to level up.” Sadly, the Chancellor’s spending commitments do not reflect this ambition when it comes to children’s access to school food.
There is some good news. We welcome the commitment to over £200 million per year for the continuation of the Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF), ensuring some of the most vulnerable children in the country can access quality nutrition during school holidays. However, as many children experiencing food insecurity are still ineligible for free school meals, they will be missing out on HAF provision. We had hoped to see funding for an extension to eligibility for free school meals, a recommendation made within the National Food Strategy (NFS), but it appears there’s more campaigning to be done on this front.
This budget comes a time when financial pressure is mounting on the poorest families. Given that school food has the potential to address a number of policy areas, from obesity to educational attainment, it is a shame HM Treasury is not giving it due attention. Never daunted, we’ll be lobbying hard ahead of the Government's response to the NFS white paper to ensure that the important recommendations around school food and food education are given the consideration they need.
In other news ...
A new deal between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru includes plans to provide free school meals for all children in primary school.
We are proud to have joined a coalition of governments, academics and NGOs working to improve school food systems around the globe.
It’s time for Government to address problems of child food poverty and make free school meals available to every child that needs one.