Tower Hamlets votes for free school meals to all primary kids in East End

Tower Hamlets Town Hall

Tower Hamlets Town Hall - Credit: Archant

All children up to age 11 in London’s deprived East End are to get free school meals.

The move agreed last night by Tower Hamlets Council begins from the next school year starting in September.

All 25,271 primary school pupils from Reception through to Year 6 are to get lunch each day paid for by council taxpayers at an estimated £2.6 million a year.

“We know what a huge difference free meals will make to families,” said Tower Hamlets cabinet member for children and schools, Oliur Rahman. “We were one of the first local authorities to introduce free meals for children in Reception and Year-1 last September.

“This was quickly followed by a Government announcement that it would be rolling out the scheme nationally to include Year-2 pupils.”

The Labour Opposition proposals were agreed by all sides including the Mayor’s independent supporters.

They give the Mayor power to pay for the free school meals from public health funds and using savings by cutting his Mercedes and £300,000 budget for political consultants. His alternative plan was to pay for free meals using emergency reserves, Labour claims.

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Opposition Group Deputy Leader Rachael Saunders said: “We have now given the Mayor a way to fund school meals—it’s now up to him to step up to the plate and implement it.”

Councillors last night voted for the remaining 15,233 primary school youngsters to be included in the free meals policy who are not provided for by the Government’s scheme.