Education Anti-Poverty Coalition calls for child benefit increase

School governors, head teachers, PTAs and others working in schools have written to the Chancellor urging him to increase child benefit and expand free school meals eligibility to reduce the impact of poverty and hardship on children and on schools.  

The open letter says schools are increasingly seeing children finding it harder to learn because of inadequate family incomes. "It should be obvious that children who are worried, hungry, tired, more frequently ill, and lack resources and adequate clothing, find it harder to learn. And we see this increasingly every single day in our schools," the letter says.

The group says that schools and their staff are expected to work harder and harder to try to break this link. Not only does this let children down by ignoring the root cause of the issue, which is insufficient household income, it also applies staggering pressure on schools. And however hard they try, schools cannot undo the damaging effects of poverty.

The Education Anti-Poverty Coalition  - a new group – calls on the Chancellor to use the Spring Budget to introduce an immediate £20 per week increase to child benefit. This would pull 500,000 children out of poverty. Child benefit is simple, predictable and supports every child by being proportional to household size. It would support lower- and middle-income families whose budgets are increasingly squeezed.
The group also calls for Free school meals for every school-age child that needs one. This would save families around £440 per year per child and prevent food-related worry and hunger at school.