YOUNGSTERS starting the new academic year will be in line for free meals in primary school for the first time.

The government has changed the rules so children from September reception age upwards will be eligible for free school lunches - a move ministers say could benefit 8,833 children in Dudley borough.

Parents previously paying for the meals are expected to save around £400 per year as a result of the changes.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP, said: “Free school meals for infants will not only save families hundreds of pounds a year but will also have an impact on how a child performs in the classroom so that, regardless of their background, every child can have the best possible start in life.

“Pupils at the pilot schools who were all given free meals were found to be up to two months ahead of their peers elsewhere.”