Children in Calderdale are set to lose out on £540,000 in extra support for children on free school meals thanks to an administrative sleight of hand that will see tens of thousands of disadvantaged children across the country ignored.

Local authorities across the country will lose out on millions in pupil premium funding – allocated to support children on free school meals – as government funding changes come into force. Labour analysis of freedom of information requests reveals that as many as 120,000 children could be missing out on support worth up to £155 million.

The change will see children lose support as the deadline for assessing eligibility for Pupil Premium funding (awarded to schools teaching disadvantaged children), is brought forward from the usual January cut-off to October. This will exclude tens of thousands of children from families pushed into poverty between October 2020 and January 2021 – a move widely condemned by educationalists. In that period Universal Credit claimants rose by 5.5% across the country.

In Calderdale schools will miss out on £540,000, the equivalent of 400 children at primary school not receiving their Pupil Premium.

Labour’s spokesperson for Education Cllr Adam Wilkinson said,

“The Conservatives can afford a 40% pay-rise for Dominic Cummings and £2bn in crony contracts for their mates, but when it comes to support for disadvantaged children in Calderdale, they are cutting every corner they can find.

“Our children are missing out on over half a million pounds, while the government throws billions after billions at a test and trace system that hasn’t worked. This will only make it more difficult for schools to provide the support pupils need to catch-up after a truly terrible year.

“It beggars belief that this government thinks it can use an accounting con to short change children in Calderdale. They have the wrong priorities and they are making the wrong decisions – time for another u-turn, now.”

Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, said:

“Time and time again this Government has overlooked some of the most basic needs of children throughout the pandemic. Children who require this additional funding, from those families who are struggling the most, will miss out due to this financial fudge from Government. It’s simply not on. I wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson last month calling on him to reverse this decision and I would ask that he now reconsiders this urgently.”

Kate Green MP, Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Conservatives’ stealth cut to school budgets shows their disregard for children’s futures as we recover from this pandemic.

“Their mishandling of the Covid crisis has kept children out of school, missing out on learning and time with friends, and now they are cutting support to help children most likely to have struggled with learning over the last year.

“The Conservatives have neglected children through this pandemic and now risk leaving them behind in our recovery.”

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