Government announces how much money Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire will receive for free childcare and school meals

MP Elizabeth Truss. Picture: Matthew Usher. MP Elizabeth Truss. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thursday, December 19, 2013
3:26 PM

Norfolk will receive £7.7 million to extend free childcare to an extra 1,730 two year olds, and £1.9 million to deliver free school meals for infants, the government has announced.

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The policies of increasing the proportion of two year olds eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week from 20pc to 40pc, and giving free food to all infants, was announced in the autumn, but the detailed breakdown of funding was released for the first time today.

South West Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss said: “I want parents to get the early years support their child is entitled to where they want it and at a time they need it. They would be able to access childcare in blocks of three or five hours to suit their working lives.

“Encouraging school nurseries to open from 8am to 6pm rather than 9am to 3pm and passing on funding to good and outstanding childminders will help offer places at the times we know parents need them. We have already made it easier for childminders to access funding for two year olds, and I want councils in the East of England to pass more money down so parents are able to access the home based, flexible childcare that many prefer.”

A total of 1,894 Norfolk two year olds are currently eligible for free childcare, at a cost of £1.7 million; this will grow to 3,624 next year, with an extra £6.7 million for new places, and £1 million to help increase capacity.

Suffolk will receive an extra £5.8 million for childcare and £1.7 million for free school meals, while Cambridgeshire will receive an extra £4.3 million and £1.4 million respectively.

The funding for free school meals is designed to ensure schools have the capacity to provide them, once every infant in a state-funded school becomes eligible from September 2014.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “Making free school meals available for infants in the East of England means children won’t miss out on getting a healthy meal during the day. This is good for their health and their studies.”

However, the policy of giving free school meals to all infants has provoked opposition from within Mr Clegg’s own Liberal Democrat party.

In October, senior Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey told Radio 4 that 1.3 million of parents who would benefit could “afford perfectly well to pay for their own school lunch”, and the money should be targeted at poorer families.

Are free school meals for infants a good idea? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

6 comments

  • What a total waste of tax payers hard earned money - if people make the decision to have children, they should bear the cost of feeding them! ....... And YES I do have children!!!

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    Norfolk John

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Also, when my children have school meals they come home hungry, they don't when they take a packed lunch!

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    Neil

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • I have absolutely no objection to the provision of free school meals for the deserving but find the concept of universal entitlement bizarre, incomprehensible and devoid of rstionale. Furthermore has one iota of consideration been given to the logistic nightmare this will present to schools who no longer have purpose built dining areas and kitchens. Just wait to see the vans full of lukewarm, congealing concoctions racing along our roads a few minutes before midday and then pity the children who are second or third sitting.

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    guella

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • crazy. utterly crazy. but then that prize plank Truss is involved so what can we expect?

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • What about the upper end of the spectrum. College students are having funding cuts to assist with transport, meaning young people cannot afford to attend Colleges!

    Report this comment

    Neil

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • I agree with Norfolk John. How about using that money to help victims of the recent floods and North Norfolk council to repair damage? When people decide to have children they must be responsible for looking after them and feeding them. Why should the taxpayer fund this? I'm sick of my taxes being wasted! We have had children and proud to say we funded them ourselves. Now they are grown up why should we be funding someone else's?

    Report this comment

    getalife

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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