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Welfare Free school meals were a good investment

A report by the Education Policy Institute said the policy had its fault but concludes it had saved families hundreds of millions pounds

TEACHING unions are claiming vindication after a report published today found that universal free school meals had proved a good investment.

The Education Policy Institute said there were unresolved issues with the scheme, which has been rolled out in a number of council areas, but concluded it had saved families an estimated £887 million over a 10-year period.

Education Policy Institute chief economist Peter Sellen said: “The policy has also delivered financial benefits and time savings for parents and, while it is too early to detect whether the policy has had an impact on educational and health outcomes, some schools and parents have perceived benefits for children’s readiness for learning, the profile of health eating in schools and children’s eating habits.”

Teachers’ union Nasuwt said the report “confirms that those who claimed at time that introducing a universal school meals entitlement for infant pupils would be near to impossible have been proved wrong.”

General secretary Chris Keates said: “The benefits to parents of this policy are beyond debate, particularly in terms of the costs and time they have saved in not having to pay for a school meal or to prepare a packed lunch.”

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