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Government confirms changes to EYPP and two-year-old funding eligibility

By Rachel Lawler
Universal credit changes EYPP and two-year-old funding
The government has confirmed plans to make changes to the eligibility criteria for the early years pupil premium, early education funding for two-year-olds and free school meals.
Univeral credit
The changes will come alongside the rollout of universal credit in April 2018. Prior to this, all families receiving universal credit were entitled to free school meals, the early years pupil premium and two-year-old funding as part of the early phases of its roll out.
The government has now confirmed that this will no longer be the case once universal credit is fully rolled out in England.
EYPP and free meals
Children from households earning less than £7,400, and receiving universal credit, will be entitled to the early years pupil premium and free school meals. The government estimates that around 50,000 more children will be eligible for the schemes under the new plans.
Two-year-old funding
Under the new plans, households receiving universal credit and earning less than £15,400 a year will be eligible for two-year-old funding. The government estimates that by 2023, 7,000 more children will be eligible for this funding than under the current scheme.
The government has also proposed transitional protections to prevent existing entitlements to the pupil premium and free school meals from ending unexpectedly. It also says that children currently benefitting from the two-year-old funding will continue to receive it until they become eligible for the three- and four-year-old universal entitlement, even if their circumstances change.
'Cliff edge'
The Alliance previously expressed concerns when these changes were proposed. In its response to the consultation, the Alliance warned that a cap or means testing would create a “cliff edge” that would exclude low-income families.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “Unfortunately, this response fits a recent pattern of government consultations being a listening exercise in name only.
“The government may claim that it is extending the availability of free school meals by 50,000 but this ignores figures from the Children’s Society which suggest the decision to introduce this earnings threshold could result in a million children missing out.
“In failing to respond to that research, and the concerns raised by the Alliance, the government has missed an opportunity to provide much needed additional support and instead introduced a policy that risks heaping more misery on to struggling families.”
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