During a debate in the House of Commons on children’s education recovery and childcare costs, Munira tabled an amendment to ensure that the Government supports children’s concentration, learning and wellbeing by extending free school meals to all children in primary education and to all those in secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit.
With the cost of living crisis, more families are struggling to put food on the table and it’s crucial children are able to eat at least one healthy hot meal per day. Research shows that children who do not eat a healthy diet do not perform as well at school as those who are well nourished.
Munira called on the Minister to increase the pupil premium – a policy introduced by Liberal Democrats in Government which provides additional funding for disadvantaged students – in line with inflation. Since 2014/15, the Conservatives have allowed the pupil premium to be cut in real terms by as much as £127 for each child in primary school and £160 for every secondary pupil.
Finally, Munira highlighted the unsustainable cost of childcare for many families with young children. The UK has the highest childcare costs in the world, with two thirds of parents paying more for childcare than for their rent or mortgage. This is forcing increasing numbers of women to give up their jobs or work fewer hours.
Following the debate, Munira said:
“It was disappointing to see so few MPs, particularly on the Conservative benches, in attendance today on what was an important debate on our children’s future.
“With rising numbers of families struggling to afford food, and a growing attainment gap between the most disadvantaged and more affluent pupils, the Government must step in and boost investment in our children if it’s serious about levelling up. Investment in high quality childcare is not only crucial to ensure our children have the very best start in life but also for our economy. In the midst of a cost of living crisis, ensuring parents can continue to work and children are well fed should be a top priority for the Conservative Government.”