The cost of feeding UK primary school children vs feeding MPs

I’ve seen this image, and just like you, I was wondering how much it actually costs to feed all the primary school children in the country. Based on only 5 minutes of research, I’m able to work out the answer.

To be able to answer a question like this we need to know a few things:

  1. How much does it cost to feed one child per day?
  2. How many days are there in the academic school year?
  3. How many children receive free lunches? Based on the image above, we are restricting this to infant schools.
Once we know this, we can work out the total cost of feeding these children, per year. Then, we want to know how much that costs per taxpayer and compare that to the figure in the image (5.8 million), also per taxpayer. To be able to do that we also need to know.
  1. How many people in the UK are employed?

So, what are the answers?

  1. Between £1 and £2 per day. For simplicity, I’m splitting the difference and using £1.50. This figure comes from The Mirror and is now a few years old. 
  2. 195. That figure comes from Essex County Council school year planner for 2018 / 2019.
  3. 2 million. This was a little bit more difficult to find, and some assumptions have been made. Again, the figures come from 2012. I went to the government’s page on schools, pupils, and their characteristics and downloaded the national tables file. Table 2a lets us know that the total number of pupils in primary state-funded education is just north of 4 million. This covers years 1 through 6. I’ve just halved the value as an assumption that half the pupils are in years 1 through 3.
This gives a cost of  £780 million per year. 
And UK Employment rates?
  1. Between January and March 2017, 32 million. This was taken from the ONS website on the UK labour market page. These are the most up to date figures available at the time of writing.
Based on this, and assuming that we can split the tax bill evenly amongst all works, the cost per taxpayer, per year, is £24.38.
How much does it cost to feed the MPs? 19 pence per taxpayer, per year