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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."

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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".

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