THE children of immigrant families are being deliberately starved by the Tories as part of their ‘hostile environment’ policy towards immigrant workers. Headteachers and campaigners are furious that these children are being denied free school meals under rules brought in by the Tories in 2012.
School kids in year 3 and above are not eligible for free school meals because their parents have no access to benefits under a provision in the rules called ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRFP). The Tories have cut off benefits to the families of immigrants and then deny their children the right to what is in effect the only guaranteed meal they could have.
This is the ‘hostile environment’ in practice: starve children and families into submission in an attempt to drive them out, regardless of whether they have a legal right to remain in Britain.
The effects of this callous treatment of kids are devastating, with headteachers across the country outraged that their pupils, who are among the poorest, are being deprived of school meals.
One headteacher, Ian Bennett, told the press that he had been forced to use money from his school’s education budget to feed 12 children caught by the Tory ‘hostile environment’ regime.
Gracie Bradley from the organisation Liberty said: ‘With public opposition to the government’s hostile environment at fever pitch in the wake of the Windrush scandal, it’s time politicians recognised how objectionable it is to deny children living in poverty free school meals because of their immigration status.’
It is not a question of the Tories recognising how objectionable it is to starve kids – Theresa May as Home Secretary knew exactly what the outcome of her policies would be and made sure that steps were taken to make life a living hell for all immigrant workers. Not content with destroying boarding cards that could have proved the legal right of the Windrush generation to remain in Britain, in 2016 the Tories cut the legal aid budget making it impossible for people challenging Home Office decisions about their immigration status to get free legal representation.
To make doubly sure that that they have little chance in proving their immigration status the Tories this week granted the Home Office exemption from requests in immigration matters.
It emerged that tens of thousands of people each year will be prevented from obtaining official information on their own immigration status under Tory data protection powers.
In 2016, nearly 26,000 people put in requests as a vital part of challenging Home Office decisions to remove their legal status and leave them open to being held in detention and deported; now the Tories want to make sure none of this information is released to them. The Tories are using child hunger as a weapon not just against immigrant workers but against the entire working class.
This week it was revealed that 3.1 million children in families with working parents live below the official poverty line due to wage and benefit cuts. For these children free school meals are not a luxury but an absolute necessity.
In March, the Tories cut the eligibility for free meals in England for all those receiving universal credit. Previously every family on universal credit was eligible. Now only children from families with an income below £7,400 a year will get them. Poverty campaigners estimate that this means an extra one million kids from the poorest families will lose out.
While billions of pounds of taxes can be spent bailing-out the banks from the crisis they caused in 2008 the children of working class families are being forced to pay and go hungry to keep these bankers and bosses in luxury. The shameful refusal of the TUC and labour leadership to demand the Tories be immediately removed is a betrayal of every worker in the country.
The working class must demand an end to this passive acceptance by the TUC of this inhuman treatment of children by demanding that they immediately call a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government and a socialist society that will ensure no child goes hungry again and will welcome all workers from across the world.