Rosie Duffield (MP for Canterbury) asked what measures were taken to monitor the number of children becoming eligible for free school meals.
Ford said: “Schools and local authorities will continue to accept free school meal applications from parents and pupils. The department will continue to provide access to the Eligibility Checking System to support schools and local authorities in verifying and awarding free school meals.”
The Department for Education released a statement yesterday (25 March) about a scam email. The email said: ’As schools will be closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported. ’This is a scam email - do not respond, and delete immediately.
Ford also highlighted the Government are working to consider options to support children who receive a free breakfast through our contracts with Family Action and Magic Breakfast.
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (MP for Washington and Sunderland West) enquired whether the UK Government would introduce a national voucher system for free school meals.
Ford responded: “While schools are closed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, they will be able to provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops for families.
“The Government has confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals. We are continuing to work on a national approach to supporting free school meal pupils and will announce further details and relevant dates in due course.”
In the UK there are an estimated 1.3 million children who are entitled to free school meals if they are no longer attending school.
Parliament went into recess last night and it should return on 21 April 2020. The recess was brought forward because of fears for MP’s safety.