Department for Education consultation on disadvantaged entitlements under Universal Credit
November 30, 2017
On 16 November, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a consultation on how children’s eligibility for free school meals and pupil premium will work following the roll out of universal credit.
The government’s proposals are to alter eligibility for free school meals from the current system based on income-related benefits, to a new one based on a household’s net earnings. The initial threshold will be set at £7,400. During the rollout period, all pupils who are currently eligible will have their entitlements protected, and these protections will continue until the student has completed their current phase of education. Once the system is fully implemented, the government are estimating that 50,000 more pupils will receive free school meals. The government are also proposing to extend the new eligibility criteria to the early years pupil premium.
One consequence of the changes is that the gradual nature of the rollout and the altered eligibility criteria will limit the ability to compare between different school cohorts. This is because free school meal eligibility has been traditionally used as the main indicator of disadvantage.