The Children's Society say new proposals could render a million children in poverty ineligible. But free school meals can make or break a child's futureby Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett / February 8, 2018 / Leave a comment
Sometimes, the sheer cartoon-villainess of the Conservative party would border on hilarity if it wasn’t so sad. “Do they realise how this looks?” I always wonder, as a chinless artisto with such a strong Victorian-workhouse-master vibe he might as well be wearing tails introduces the latest cruel-to-be-kind policy. You suspect they’d introduce mass kitten skinning if they could claim it was for the kittens’ own good.
Then you remember that these policies are actually pretty popular, provided that it’s human children, not cat children, who are being harmed. (The British would never tolerate the latter—too many anthropomorphic kids’ books, growing up.)
This week, we hear that the Conservatives’ reforms to Universal Credit—an omnishambles if ever there was one—could potentially lead to one million children missing out on free school meals.
Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi took some time out from being waited on by low-paid half-naked young women many decades his junior (one wonders how many of them were once on free school meals) to announce the new earnings threshold of £7,400.
He argues that an extra 50,000 children will be entitled to help. Labour and the Children’s Society argue that, once you take benefits into account, a million children in poverty will no longer be eligible.
Is it really necessary, in 2018, for me to have to mount a defence of free school meals? I was a free school meals child, though of course I do not think of myself purely in that sense. We didn’t really know what it meant, back then, except that your dad probably didn’t live with you.
Indeed, I always bristle when I read that X per cent of X constituency’s children are on free school meals. It’s a necessary marker for deprivation, of course, but it hits me somewhere visceral. “I am more than that,” I want to yell. It’s the same feeling I get when I see someone with a poster or a banner saying, “product of the welfare state.”
I get the political point of it, of course—and in fact anyone who has been to see their GP, or used a library, or had a free eye test is technically a “product of the welfare state.”
But I’ve spent too many years being told that people…