Meri O'Connell at The Avenue School

Reading Lib Dems have slammed the Conservative government for ending a fund which helped small schools provide free school meals. Data obtained by the Liberal Democrats show that those schools affected include All Saints CofE Aided Infant School, The Avenue Special School, and The Heights Primary School across Reading Borough Council.

Special cash grants for nearly 3,000 of the smallest infant schools will not be renewed. Bonus funding helped infant schools with fewer than 150 pupils meet the pledge to provide free hot meals for every pupil.

The schools, many of them in rural areas or for special needs children, needed extra cash because their size meant they could not buy bulk food cheaply enough to fit their budgets. In 2015/16 the fund paid out a flat fee of £2,300 to 2,867 schools, coming to £6.5m in total.

Cllr Meri O’Connell, Reading Lib Dems education spokesperson, said: “Free school meals for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 was a key “win” that Lib Dems fought for, and we provided extra cash for smaller schools to help with this. But the Conservative government has cut this extra fund, breaking a key election promise”.