Number of youngsters in receipt of free school meals increases by 55 per cent in four years in Barnsley
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In the year to May 2018, 6,496 youngsters were in receipt of free school meals – and that number had skyrocketed to 10,117 by the year to May 2022.
The UK as a whole has seen an increase in the number of pupils who qualify for free school meals – 22.5 per cent of pupils now qualify, up from 20.8 per cent a year earlier – just under 1.9 million pupils.
Inflation has led to soaring costs, including energy and food prices, with many struggling to make ends meet.
The trend has been branded “deeply concerning” by one of Barnsley’s MPs, as the cost-of-living crisis pushes residents into hardship.
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central said: “These trends are deeply concerning to see and chime with the countless conversations I have had with families across Barnsley who are struggling to make ends meet.
“This is the devastating reality of the Conservative’s cost-of-living crisis and a damning indictment of the Government’s complete inability to help people live with decency and dignity.
“A tax hike on working people, a callous Universal Credit cut and now spiralling energy and food bills.
“It’s shameful that Barnsley families and children are paying the price for the Conservative’s failures, the Government must urgently step up support to get people through this very tough period.”
Councillor Trevor Cave, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services at Barnsley Council said 30 per cent of eligible families don’t take up their free school meals, and encouraged them to apply.
“Having regular, nutritious food has a huge impact on a child’s health, helping them to have healthy, happy lives,” said Coun Cave.
“We’ve seen an increase in children receiving free school meals in recent years, but we know there are still families out there not using this support.
“Around 30 per cent of eligible families don’t take up their free school meals.
“To find out more and apply, search ‘free school meals’ on Barnsley Council’s website or call 01226 787787 and press option 3, we’ll be happy to help.”