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HomeLondon NewsFree school meals for some of Harrow's children hang in the balance...

Free school meals for some of Harrow’s children hang in the balance ahead of mayoral election

As London’s mayoral election nears, the debate intensifies over free school meals between Labour’s Sadiq Khan and Conservative Susan Hall.

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, has expressed concerns that nearly 10,000 children in Harrow could lose their entitlement to free school meals if the Conservative candidate, Susan Hall, is victorious on May 2.

The current policy, championed by Khan, provides universal free school meals to all state primary school children, a scheme that has distributed approximately 1.9 million free meals in Harrow alone during this school year.

The mayor stressed that the programme not only ensures that children receive nutritious meals but also offers significant financial relief to families, potentially saving them up to £1,000 over two years per child amidst the escalating cost of living.

However, at a recent hustings, Hall voiced her preference for a more targeted approach to free school meals, questioning the fairness of the universal provision, particularly when it includes children from wealthier families.

The mayoral race is shaping up to be a direct contest between Khan’s policies aimed at inclusivity and cost-saving measures, and Hall seeks to prioritise resources for those most in need.

At a hustings on 11 May, the Tory candidate for Mayor, Susan Hall, said, “There is no such thing as a free meal. People have to pay for it.

“And they are telling me also that they don’t think it’s fair that they are having to pay towards millionaires’ kids or people that can really afford it. And we have to look at this.

“But there has to be a better way of doing this.

“But don’t ever kid yourself that it’s free school meals. Because somebody has got to pay for them. And the money should go in the right place to the kids that really need it.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said –
“Delivering universal free school meals for state primary school children has been one of my proudest moments as Mayor. They were also a lifeline for me personally growing up. With the continuing cost-of-living crisis, it means parents don’t have to worry about whether their children will get a healthy, nutritious meal every day.

“My Tory opponent has finally revealed what she thinks about the policy. Frankly it’s a disgrace that anyone running for Mayor would want to roll back a policy that’s ensuring children across London aren’t going hungry. Without it, thousands of families in Harrow on low incomes who are really struggling would lose support.

“Under Tory proposals huge numbers of lower and middle income families would miss out, and they are really struggling right now. It’s not just about wealthy households as the Tories suggest.”

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