Cornwall Council's faces a huge funding black hole in attempt to supply a free school meal to all pupils up to eight years old.

The fact the authority has a funding shortfall of £428,156 means that the cash will come out of the school maintenance budget, despite schools in Cornwall already facing a £59m maintenance backlog.

The Government announced from September 2014 that all KS1 pupils  will receive a free school meal and since this announcement, Cornwall Council says it has been reviewing the school meal and kitchen facility provision in Cornwall.

The aim of this review was to understanding of what kitchen improvements need to be done before September.

Councillor Andrew Wallis, cabinet member for schools said that this survey identified the costs of carrying out adaptations to existing school kitchens, building new kitchens – where required – and the purchasing and installation of new equipment will cost £1.275m.

He said: "This costing has been reviewed and reviewed to make sure it is best value. However, and this is the kicker, the Government in its announcement of £150m for new kitchen facilities only allocated £847,260. A shortfall of £428,156.

"The Council has made representations to the Government asking for a rethink on the funding, but has been told, the Council will need to find the shortfall from its own budget. This is not helpful, as the Council’s budget is already under extreme pressures and could do without having to find a further £428,156.

"However, to make sure the Council meets its obligation for September, I have in conjunction with the Director and Head of Service has agreed this shortfall will come out of the school maintenance budget and then make a case to the School’s Forum (independent of the Council and who administers the Dedicated Schools Grant) to use some of the under-spend in the DSG.

"That way, the school maintenance budget will hopefully be replenished and this money will be able to try to address the £59m maintenance backlog.

"It is extremely disappointing this good idea of free school meals has been undermined by not enough funding being awarded. You cannot help but think the provision of school kitchens was an afterthought to the announcement."