No child should go hungry: free school meals and ending “No Recourse to Public Funds”
Posted: 28 February 2019
“No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF) policies, which deny many migrants access to a social safety net – to social housing and many benefits – are inhumane, unjust and serve to divide and undermine workers.
One of their many impacts is that the children of migrants subject to NRPF cannot access means-tested school meals. Many report going hungry, and where meals are provided, parents receive bills they simply cannot afford to pay. To inflict this on children simply due to their parent’s immigration status is cruel and racist.
Moreover, NRPF policies undermine all workers: when any group of workers are afraid that losing their job means their children will go hungry or they will have no social security to fall back on, they are more vulnerable to mistreatment by exploitative employers, undermining pay and conditions for all of us.
We have joined the campaign by North East London Migrant Action (NELMA) to demand free school meals for every child and put an end to this and all NRPF policies. For starters, we want Labour to come out against NRPF and pledge in our next manifesto to scrapping it. And until change is won nationally, we need to press local councils to supply those meals to the children who need them.
As a related issue, we are also supporting the drive against Hostile Environment gatekeeping by local councils – including, disappointingly, Labour councils – of badly-needed assistance to migrant families. More info on that here.
We need supporters across the country to build the campaign from local communities upwards. And local Labour parties and trade union branches – especially unions of school workers – can and should be at the heart of it. Please take it to your local party and your union branch and get them involved!
You can read more about the campaign, and access a toolkit, here on NELMA’s website. And below is a model motion – it can be used as-is in your local Labour party, and adapted easily for a union branch too. You may also want to check out the motion our supporters in the National Education Union submitted to their annual conference. If you’re getting active locally, if you’re a branch that has voted to support the campaign, or if you want to discuss what you can do, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!
Finally, this will be one of many NRPF-related issues that will be discussed at our fringe meeting after London Labour conference on 2 March – please come along!
Model motion: No child should go hungry at school
This branch notes:
- Children in years 3 and above cannot receive free school meals (FSMs) if their parents are migrants with leave to remain subject to a “no recourse to public fund” (NRPF) condition, or are undocumented.
- These are often some of the poorest and most vulnerable children. Many report going hungry; where meals are provided, parents receive bills they cannot afford to pay. With the rise of foodbank use, families report that school meals are increasingly the only cooked meal many children can rely on per day.
- North East London Migrant Action (NELMA) and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement (LCFM) are campaigning for all children to receive FSMs and to end NRPF policies, and until this is secured, for local authorities to supply FSMs unilaterally. Further info and a toolkit are at bit.ly/NELMA-FSM-info.
- Although some schools and local authorities use their discretion to provide them with meals, they have to find extra funds to do so.
This branch believes:
- No child should go hungry in our schools because of who their parents are.
- We oppose the cruelty and racism of these “hostile environment” policies.
- As well as causing immediate suffering, causing children to be malnourished holds them back and prevents them from getting the most out of their education.
- NRPF policies undermine all workers: when any group of workers are afraid that losing their job means their children will go hungry or they will have no social security to fall back on, they are more vulnerable to mistreatment by exploitative employers, undermining pay and conditions for all of us.
This branch resolves to:
- Add our support to the campaign to repeal this and all the discriminatory NRPF-related policies, and for local authorities to meet the need for FSMs in the interim (labourfreemovement.org/school-meals-nrpf).
- Call on our council to fund school meals for all children, to audit its NRPF policies, and to campaign with the local community against the austerity and hostile environment policies that central government is passing on to local government.
- Call for the Labour Party nationally to provide guidance to Labour-run local authorities to this end.
- Call for the Labour Party nationally and our Labour MP/PPC to pledge to end the use of NRPF policies against migrants, and to press the government with this demand.
- To reach out among the local community (particularly migrants’ groups, parents’ and families’ groups, school workers’ trade unions, and schools) to campaign together for the above. We will invite them to co-host a public discussion on the issue with them including a speaker from the national campaign.