SCOTTISH GOVERMENT TO PROTECT FREE SCHOOL DINNERS
Friday, 25 September 2015 11:59
MSP backs Scottish Government securing free school meals for nearly 7,000 children in Falkirk
The MSP for Falkirk East, Angus MacDonald, has welcomed the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that provision of free school meals and early learning and childcare for the most disadvantaged children in Scotland will be protected by the Scottish Government, following cuts to Tax Credits announced by the UK Government.
In the local authority district of Falkirk, 6,692 children currently benefit from a free school meal.
The Scottish Government has estimated that as a result of cuts to tax credits 22,000 children between 3 and 15 years old in Scotland will lose their entitlement to free school meals. The cuts will also mean that 2,000 2 year-olds will no longer be eligible for either free school meals or early learning and childcare.
This comes as reports suggest UK Government are considering scrapping universal free school meal provision in England.
Commenting, Angus MacDonald - pictured below addressing a school assembly at Carrongrange Secondary in Stenhousemuir - said, “Some 6,600 families in the Falkirk Council catchment area, of whom are in my constituency of Falkirk East face a cut to their tax credit entitlement as a result of the changes announced by heartless Tory Ministers at Westminster. This won’t just have an impact on their income but will also affect the other support they are entitled to as a result.
The MSP for Falkirk East continued, “We believe that the provision of these services is key to ensuring every child gets the best start in life - that’s why the SNP will not allow the Tories to cut free school meal or childcare provision for the most disadvantaged children in Scotland. We will continue to support the 6,692 children in the Falkirk district who receive school meals, as well as all of those children who receive childcare and early learning.
“Under the SNP, free early learning and childcare provision has already been increased by 45 per cent and the First Minister has pledged that if re-elected the number of hours provided will be doubled. This vital investment will ensure we support more parents into work and improve the life chances of our children.
“By contrast the Tories are undertaking a relentless attack on our social security system and are considering yet more draconian cuts - including cutting free school meals in England. They should scrap these damaging plans which would have an impact on the budget available to the Scottish Government to protect the poorest in Scotland.
“With the powers at it’s disposal the Scottish Government is mitigating the worst impacts of the Tories welfare cuts. The Scotland Bill must be amended to give the Scottish Parliament full powers over social security to ensure we are no longer at the mercy of a Tory Chancellor in Downing Street intent on dismantling the welfare state.”
Further detail on the Scottish Government announcement can be found here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Protecting-free-school-meals-and-early-learning-and-childcare-1d8a.aspx
Reports that the UK Government will scrap universal free school meals in England can be found here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/free-school-meals-for-infants-set-to-be-scrapped-under-osbornes-spending-review-10509664.html
Statistics on free school meals by local authority can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/SchoolMealsDatasets/schmeals2015