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Schools to get extra money for new kitchens and dining rooms under free-meals plan

Primary schools are to receive an extra £150 million in funding to set up new kitchens and dining rooms, under government plans to offer all five-to-seven-year-olds a free school lunch.

The government announcement comes just months after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg unveiled the plan for free meals for all children in their first two years of school.

The scheme, due to be introduced in September next year, has been widely welcomed, although some headteachers and charities warned that schools would need financial support to get it up and running.

There was also opposition to the plan, with some commentators claiming that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The new funding for improving school meals provision will be announced in tomorrow's Autumn Statement, when Chancellor George Osborne will set out the government’s spending plans.

The money comes in addition to £450m set aside in 2014/15 and £635m in 2015/16 to fund the free lunches themselves.

The scheme is expected to save parents around £437 per year, per child.

Nick Clegg said today: “Early on I made it very clear that universal free school meals would be my personal priority in this Autumn Statement and I’m proud that we are now delivering it.

“Today, I can announce that we're providing more than £1 billion to ensure children get a healthy meal in the middle of the day. We’re also making sure that schools are not left out of pocket by putting £150m on the table to fund new kitchen and dining facilities where they are needed.”

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