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Poverty: Nearly half of children miss school meals due to lack of money

3m families struggle with school costs like meals, books and uniforms

ALMOST half of children living in poverty had to skip a school meal through lack of money, a study by the Children’s Commission on Poverty (CCP) revealed today.

The CCP figures show how 19 per cent of children in homes that were “not well off at all” sometimes missed school meals. 

A further 17 per cent had missed meals once or twice and 5 per cent went hungry in school regularly. 

“Poverty isn’t just a physical problem, but has a mental effect on children,” said Cyrus, a 14-year-old who gave evidence.

“Children are being treated differently if they are living in poverty. They are made to stand out.”

More than one in four children reported being bullied for their family’s financial situation. 

School costs such as uniforms and meals can also prove to be too great a burden on more than three million struggling families.

“The evidence shows that poverty itself is a barrier to learning,” said headteachers’ union NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby.

NAHT added that it wished to see more government funding go into schools to end these situations of discrimination towards poor children.

Teachers’ union NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates branded the increasing gap between the average pay and increasing school costs an effective “tax on learning.”

“This is a shameful indictment of current education, social and economic policies,” she added. 

“The reality is that access to basic educational opportunities, which should be entitlements for all, is increasingly based on parents’ ability to pay.”

The new study comes mere days after the United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef) announced that the number of British children in poverty had risen by a quarter since 2008.

Unicef blamed the government’s “austerity measures” — such as benefit cuts and frozen salaries — for the “unprecedented increase” in the destitution among British children. 

The charity urged government to review its economic polices and Unicef UK executive director David Bull said: “We haven’t seen the worst of this austerity and its impact.”

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