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Free school lunches for infants 'will begin in September'

Free school meals for six and seven-year-old children will go ahead from this September, Nick Clegg assured Good Morning Britain.

The Deputy Prime Minister said his flagship policy was "properly budgeted" and had the backing of both the Education Secretary and the Minister for Schools.

"I think it is going to be one of the most positive things that has happened in our school system for a long time. Of course there are lots and lots of schools across the country - we are helping them but it will happen in September and it will be of great benefit."


Laws dismisses criticism of free school meals

Free school meals for infants will not be funded by taxing the poor, the minister for schools has told Daybreak.

Liberal Democrat David Laws was adamant the £1 billion giveaway would be funded by closing tax loopholes which would "ensure policies such as this can be progressive".

The Chancellor will announce full funding details of the free school meals policy later this year in the Autumn Statement, Mr Laws added.

Critics attack free meals as 'bad use of public money'

Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam visited a school in Kirkintilloch yesterday. Credit: PA

Concerns are being raised about the Government's ability to afford a £1 billion giveaway handing all children under eight free school meals alongside a likely tax break for married couples.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the £600 million school meals scheme under a deal with the Conservatives to allow them to press ahead with a tax break for married couples that is widely expected to cost around £500 million.

A Treasury spokesman said any plans for more spending or cuts "would be taken forward in the Autumn Statement".

Attacking the scheme, the Taxpayers' Alliance described it as a "conference gimmick" while the Institute of Economic Affairs said it was "an enormously bad use of public money".

Free school meals for infant school children: Your views

Following the Government's announcement that every child at infant school in England will receive a free school meal from next September, ITV News viewers have been giving their views on social media:

All children should get free school dinners until they are 18 unless the parents opt out.

Good nutrition, table manners, and the social side of eating a meal together is missed in many households these days and should be part of education, not a profit making business.

– Claire Thirlwell McGuire

Why do we want kids fed at school? The meals are of poor quality, nutritionally poor and another step to the state taking over from parents.

– Brian Baillie

I would love to see all school children get a good balanced meal. It's been proven that it helps with the learning process (amongst other things).

And if it's given to all children then there is no distinction between those who can afford it and those who can't.

– Pamela Hardy
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