Breakfast clubs at school should be prioritised to protect vulnerable children and cut child poverty, the Children’s Commissioner has told the House of Lords.
Speaking to the Lords’ public services committee, Rachel de Souza set out her vision for transforming the lives of children across England.
“We need to look at the material conditions in which children are living,” De Souza told the peers, calling for a benefits system “focused on families”.
The former headteacher said the £20-per-week universal credit increase should be reinstated for those who receive the child component of the benefit. The uplift, introduced in March 2020 for all claimants peaking at six million,was “of greater proportionate benefit to those without children”, she said.
Lords grilled the commissioner on her plan for kids and how it would be funded, but De Souza defended her recommendations.
“There are few quick wins in supporting vulnerable children,” she said. Her office’s research revealed that around 70 per cent of vulnerable children – defined as those who have been on a child-in-need plan or in touch with social services in the past six years – are in receipt of free school meals, indicating a “causal” relationship between poverty and vulnerability.