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IEA - Extending free school meals won’t help families most in need

IEA reacts to Jeremy Corbyn's recommendation on free school meals

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s recommendation to provide free school meals for all primary school children, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs said:

“Free school meals provision is already a poorly targeted policy and extending it to all primary school children would be an unacceptable waste of taxpayers’ money. The scheme will end up subsidising middle class and affluent families who don’t need the help, while those who are struggling to make ends meet will feel very little benefit. Most parents would prefer a tax cut providing them with more choice, rather than this crude and untargeted initiative. Additionally, a significant number of primary schools do not have the facilities to provide these meals in the first place.

“For many years now there have been schemes in place to provide free school meals for disadvantaged children. Universal provision is unnecessary and paying for it by charging parents who elect to send their children to private school VAT, while still paying their share of tax for state education, is unjustifiable. Not least because a significant number of children at private schools receive financial support themselves through scholarships.

“If politicians want to help disadvantaged children they should focus on improving teaching and bringing down the cost of living via policies such as liberalising the planning system and deregulating the energy sector to lower fuel prices.”

Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries please contact Nerissa Chesterfield, Communications Officer: nchesterfield@iea.org.uk 020 7799 8920 or 07791 390 268.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

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