SCHOOLS Minister David Laws has announced that £20m of funding is being made available to local councils for building work to help deliver the free school meals for infants.
It comes after town hall bosses said that on average councils each had to find £488,000 from their own budgets to ensure the new Government policy could be delivered.
Councils were given £150m Government money to fund capital work to help deliver universal infant free school meals (UIFSM). However the Local Government Association said earlier this year that this had fallen short of the required amount in almost half of the local authority areas in the country.
Mr Laws has written to councils saying 98 per cent of primary schools were serving hot meals to their infants at the beginning of term and others were providing cold food.
He said: “This is a remarkable achievement, and I am grateful to all the school staff, caterers and local authority officers who have made it possible.
“I want as many pupils as possible to benefit from this policy, and to ensure that in all instances the meals being provided are of as high a quality as possible.
“To help in this, the Department is now making an additional £20 million of capital funding available for new projects aimed at enhancing kitchen and dining facilities.”
He said this funding had come from within the Government’s existing UIFSM budget.
Local authorities will only be able to bid for more money if they have spent their initial allocation.
Mr Laws’ letter said that academies will be able to bid for funding separately through the Condition Improvement Fund later this year.