Last November, the Government told “Consultation on disadvantaged entitlements under Universal Credit”. There were concerns that children who were receiving free school meals might lose as Universal Credit was rolled out. “The proposals should protect all children currently receiving this support, while targeting these entitlements to ensure they reach those most in need in the future”, they assured the public. And there was more.
“Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said … Our proposals should not only protect those children already receiving free school meals and additional school funding but will see thousands more benefitting from this support in future”. The Tory propaganda was so effective, it even convinced the people at Channel 4 Fact Check.
The C4 people told their audience that “The Department of Education has made clear that no one who currently gets free school meals as part of the early rollout of Universal Credit will lose their entitlement once the rollout is complete. The people who will be subject to the means test are future Universal Credit claimants”.
And the Channel 4 findings were then lapped up by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who jeered “Labour’s Shameless Scaremongering On Free School Meals”, doubling down to claim “Labour Scaremongering Targets Poor Families”. But their conclusion gave the game away.
“This is why people hate politicians, because they are industrial scale liars. Labour again willing to weaponise the anxiety of poor families”. Did someone chez Fawkes call “liar” on someone else? That wasn’t a wise choice of words, was it, O Great Guido?
We know this as Schools Week has told “The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that although 210,000 children previously ineligible for free meals stand to gain under the new system, 160,000 pupils who would have been entitled to free meals under the old system will lose out”. The IFS concludes “We estimate that around 160,000 children, 13 per cent of those entitled under the legacy system, will lose entitlement under a universal credit system”.
There was more. “During the debate, senior government ministers including Damian Hinds, the education secretary and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, claimed that no child would lose out on free school meals as a result of the scheme. Many Conservative MPs also accused Labour of ‘scaremongering’”. In which claim they were echoed by the Fawkes rabble. This was not a coincidence.
To no surprise at all, neither the Tories (“The government was approached for comment”), nor their cheerleaders in the press, have commented, unlike Jack Monroe, who has observed “I, and countless others inc @AngelaRayner @OwenJones84 used basic maths to point out that poor children WOULD lose free school meals under new Tory arrangements, and were hounded by people calling us liars. I wonder now if they will apologise … or make it right … And those members of Government who stood and baldly claimed that '50k MORE children would be fed' and 'no child would go hungry' should have their lies reprinted and be made to answer for them. This is what journalism is for”.
So, alleged real journalists, any of you going to report this? No, thought not.