Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has confirmed that the Coalition Government is making free school meals available for all infant school children and disadvantaged college students from September 2014.
The policy, announced at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in September, is confirmed in the Government's Autumn Statement.
As part of the Autumn Statement funding of £450m in 2014-15 and £635m in 2015-16 will be made available to the Department for Education to fund this commitment. This is new money into the Department for Education's budget. We are also making £150m of capital available to ensure that schools can build new kitchens or increase dining capacity where necessary.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
"Early on I made it very clear that universal free school meals would be my personal priority in this Autumn Statement and I'm proud that we are now delivering it. From the start of the next school year, every single infant school pupil will be able to sit to down to a free school lunch.
"Every child deserves the best possible start in life, and at the same time we are doing all we can to help ease the pressure on household budgets. This not only encourages positive eating habits and helps improve concentration and performance in the classroom, but this will also mean significant savings for families.
"Providing universal free school meals will help give every child the future they deserve, building a stronger economy and a fairer society."