More than 30 per cent of children in some parts of the country who are eligible for free school meals are not claiming the benefit, government research has found.
In total, one in 7 children (14 per cent) does not claim the free meals to which they are entitled, but researchers discovered significant regional variations in take-up.
Buckinghamshire and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames have the highest rates of under-registration with 33 per cent of eligible children not taking free meals. In contrast, 16 local authorities have full registration, including Newham in East London, which gives free meals to all primary pupils.
The report concludes that pupils who live in richer areas, or whose parents have higher-level qualifications, are less likely to claim.
1.3m pupils claim free school meals
24% of five-year-olds are entitled to free school meals
18% of 15-year-olds are entitled to free school meals
Percentage of eligible pupils who do not claim free school meals
North West 10%
West Midlands 8%
South West 17%
North East 2%
Yorkshire and Humber 11%
East Midlands 17%
East of England 23%
South East 23%.