Confirmed: free school meals for 4-7-year-olds from September 2014

The plan will come into effect at the start of the next school year

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Nick Clegg’s proposals to make school meals free for all 4-to-7-year-olds has been confirmed by the Chancellor.

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The plans will come into effect in September 2014, George Osbourne announced today in his Autumn Statement.

The change will save parents, on average, £400 per year per child. It will apply to 1.4 million children in English primary schools.

It comes a few weeks after Nick Clegg was forced to defend where the £150m required would come from. He says that £80m will come from the Treasury and £70m from a Department of Education underspend.

And the news has had a largely positive response.

Dr Hilary Emery, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “We welcome the commitment from the Chancellor today to make free school meals available for all infant school children from September 2014.”

We asked for your opinions on Facebook. Anne Earl said: “I think it’s a great idea for both struggling parents and for the children. I think every child deserves decent meals at school and at home.”

But Claire Skippie Meacham was skeptical. “Terrible idea. Have you seen the yearly cost of this scheme? [It’s a good idea for] families that need them … but how many families are on a cracking living? [They have to support themselves], not the government!”

One of the losers in today’s Autumn Statement was child trust funds. The government will not give parents the option of transferring their child trust funds into Junior ISAs, which are better value for money.

What do you think of free school meals for all 4-to-7-year-olds? Will it affect you?

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