Lewisham NEU (National Education Union) has voted to send a motion entitled “No child should go hungry in our schools” (motion 109) to our union’s national conference this year, and is seeking support to prioritise it for debate. At present, some of the poorest and most vulnerable children in our schools are denied meals under the government’s invidious No Recourse to Public Funding (NRPF) designation.
NRPF is a label the government puts on certain migrants, meaning they have no access to benefits. The aim is to leave them at the mercy of hyper¬exploitative employers, or drive them out of the country. All children in school up to Year 3 (age 7-8) get free school meals. After this age, access to free school meals is dependent on claiming benefits. Children who need free school meals, but whose parents are subject to NRPF, cannot get them.
Some councils, such as Southwark, have agreed to fund school meals for children with NRPF, ensuring that no child in their borough starves. They are calling on other councils to follow suit. Lewisham Deptford Labour has voted to send a motion to London Labour regional conference against NRPF policies and the hostile environment in the context of local government. The motion challenges those Labour¬run councils that remain complicit in anti-migrant practices.