Prime Minister attacked over ‘snatching’ free school meals

Norman Lamb (Lib Dem) arrives at the Norfolk North Parliamentary Constituency General Election 2015

Norman Lamb (Lib Dem) arrives at the Norfolk North Parliamentary Constituency General Election 2015 count at North Walsham Sports Hall, The verification of votes is well underway with nearly all of the ballot boxes back and being sorted before the count. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Archant

Theresa May has been dubbed the 'lunch snatcher' by the Liberal Democrats for her raid on the free school meals of thousands of Norfolk children.

The proposal to stop infant children receiving free, hot school meals was outlined in the Conservative manifesto.

More than 6,500 children currently benefit from the policy across Norfolk which was a flagship proposal of the Lib Dems when they were in coalition government with the Conservatives.

But now Mrs May's Tories want to scrap the handout in order to part-fund a £1 billion cash injection for education.

But North Norfolk Lib Dem Norman Lamb claims the policy is an attack on families who are already feeling the pinch after a sharp rise in the cost of living owing to a devalued pound.

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He said: 'Theresa May will go down as the lunch snatcher. This is a very popular policy which is making a positive impact.

'Parents are going to be hundreds of pounds worse off. And at a time when everyone is being squeezed that won't go down well.

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'On the doorstep there is a concern about this. It proves that a landslide victory for the Tories will result in a government that thinks it can do whatever it wants regardless.'

And Mr Lamb's view has been echoed by several teaching unions. Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said although the recognition that more funding was needed would be welcomed, taking away meals would not.

'The Conservatives' remedy to take money away from universal infant free school meals to help plug this gap is disappointing,' he said. 'This is just moving money around inside the system.'

But the Tory candidate in North Norfolk, James Wild, said of the cuts 'there is no magic money tree' and added: 'It is about spending money in the right places. Children will still get breakfast and studies have shown the impact that meal has on learning.

'No one has mentioned it to me on the doorstep yet. But I think that once people understand the reasons behind the move they will be supportive.'

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