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Education Act 2002

Section 201: LEA functions concerning school lunches, milk etc.

389.This section replaces section 512 of the EA 96 with three new sections.

390.The new section 512 is along the lines of the existing provision but makes two changes:

  • It enables the Secretary of State (or the NAW), by order, to set conditions that must be met before an LEA is required to provide school lunches. It is intended to use this power to restrict the entitlement to free lunches to those children who are required to attend over the lunch period. Those children who are currently entitled to free school lunches but would lose their entitlement as a result of this change will have their position protected by transitional provisions.

  • It extends free school lunch entitlement to eligible children of nursery age who receive education, funded by the LEA, in settings outside the maintained sector. This change will place those children whose parents receive entitling benefits, but who currently are not entitled to free school lunches because their education is provided in private or voluntary nursery settings on the same footing as children educated in the maintained sector.

391.The new section 512ZA requires an LEA to charge for any meals and milk provided, except as provided for by new section 512ZB. It also unifies the charging regime for pupils and persons who are no longer pupils because they have attained the age of 19 in one provision whereas they are currently dealt with separately.

392.The new section 512ZB makes the provision of free lunches conditional on a request for free lunches being made by, or on behalf of, a child. This brings the law into line with current practice and ensures that LEAs have legislative backing to resist requests for monetary compensation for the loss of free meals where no application has been made.

393.Section 512ZB also allows the Secretary of State (or the NAW) to prescribe additional benefits or tax credits, the receipt of which will entitle the parent of a child to request a free school lunch (and, where provision is made, free milk). This flexibility is required to keep pace with changes to the Tax Credit and Benefit System proposed within the new Tax Credit Act, and to prevent the loss of children’s entitlement to free lunches (and, where provision is made, free milk) as a result of the changes.

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