BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has said it is ready to implement the Government’s new policy of free school meals to all primary school children up to age seven.

Figures had shown a shortfall of £150,000 in the cash being paid to the authority by central government.

But the Department for Education said more than 99 per cent of schools had said they were ready to implement the new policy of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM).

This week the council said that all of its money was in place for the scheme.

Earlier this year the Labour Party submitted a Freedom of Information request asking all councils if they had received enough cash from the Government to start the UIFSMs in September.

And the response from Blackburn with Darwen Council at the time based on 6,399 pupils being eligible, said it had not and that the shortfall was £150,000.

Since then, a review has been carried out and the council said it was ready to implement the new policy.

Will Straw, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Rossendale and Darwen, had called on the Government to urgently address the situation when the shortfall was identified.

In a letter to council chief executive Harry Catherall, Minister of State for Schools David Laws said: “Based on the information you have provided to us and follow-up discussion with my officials, it appears to us that all maintained, voluntary-aided schools and academies in Blackburn with Darwen are on track to implement UIFSM from September.”

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry said: “I received confirmation earlier this month from the Department of Education that all schools in Blackburn with Darwen will be ready to offer free school meals to every child in infants from September.”

  • Lancashire County Council responded to the information request to say it had enough money to implement UIFSMs.