Thanks to consistent pressure from our Labour Group at County Hall, there will now be a Hertfordshire-wide scrutiny review of Free School Meal provision later this year, with an emphasis on vastly increasing uptake. This decision was made at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting at County Hall on the 19th April following the demand lodged by our Labour County Councillor for Old Stevenage, Joshua Bennett Lovell.
The Children's Society estimate that roughly 35,000 children in Hertfordshire should be in receipt of Free School Meals, although only around 8,000 are currently receiving them. Whilst the Tories at County Hall wouldn't accept the Labour Group motion in March to condemn Government plans affecting the entitlement criteria for Free School Meal provision - which could reduce the number of children entitled even further - Labour Councillors in Hertfordshire have continued to push to ensure our most vulnerable children and families are not left behind.
The review will be aimed at understanding who is currently entitled to Free School Meals broken down into various demographics, to clarify the locations and services in which people are informed about the entitlement, and to produce a plan to massively increase the numbers of children who receive these. An effective plan could see thousands of the poorest children across our County be provided with these who may be currently missing out.
This is the positive difference Labour Councillors can and are making in Local Government. May 3rd gives us all the opportunity to elect more Labour Councillors across our County and continue to push for progressive changes in all of our towns, villages and communities, helping to build a Hertfordshire "For the Many".
- Cllr Joshua Bennett Lovell, Old Stevenage Division