Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:
“The government’s response today is out of touch with public opinion and with the real life hardships that many families are facing. We are not in normal times. Normal solutions like Universal Credit may not be enough.
“Without doubt, the disruption to people’s livelihoods as a result of Covid will mean that even more children are plunged into poverty.
“Back in the spring, shamefully, the government had to be compelled to increase support for these children and their families. As the pandemic continues into the winter and next year, more support will be needed.
“Children who are hungry cannot learn as well as they might be able to. Free school meals at least guarantee that children get one nutritious meal a day. We must do all that we can to extend that entitlement to every child that is going hungry.
"Currently one in ten eligible children miss out on their free school meals entitlement. NAHT has long called for children to be automatically enrolled to receive free school meals, using the information councils already hold about their family situation. This would take away the barrier of stigma for parents.”
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