9 January 2014

Stevenson Welcomes Free School Meals Announcement

Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, has welcomed the announcement this week that free school meals will be provided for all P1-P3 children in Scotland from next January.

On Tuesday, the SNP government unveiled a £114m investment into Scotland’s youth, which also includes free childcare provision for every two-year-old from unemployed households in Scotland – around 8,400 children – by August 2014.

The move was fervently welcomed by the Scottish Free School Meals campaign who said it “marks a major step forward.”

Commenting, Mr Stevenson said:

“In times of financial austerity, it is crucially important that the Scottish Government does all that it can to support families coping with the downturn. This measure will save families at least £330 per child.

“It is also vital that healthy eating habits are encouraged from a young age, so we are indeed investing in the future of Scotland. I am delighted that the SNP Government continues to deliver for the residents of the North-east.”

Based on the latest available figures, around 8,148 pupils in the Aberdeenshire Council area, and 2,787 in the Moray Council area will be eligible to benefit from free school meals.

The investment was also supported by John Dickie, Head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland. He said:

“A universal approach to healthy free school lunches provides a huge boost to children and parents at a time when they are under increasing pressure from tax credit and benefit cuts, soaring food and energy prices and stagnating wages. Current means-testing means too many of our worst off children are not receiving a free school meal and parents too often struggle to meet the extra costs of lunches as they move back into work or increase their hours when their children start school. What’s more a universal approach ensures that all our children, whatever their home circumstances, gain the health and education benefits of a healthy lunch in the middle of the school day.”

The Scottish Government’s £114m investment will also see free childcare provision extended further by August 2015, reaching 15,400 children – 27 per cent of all two-year-olds – by widening entitlement to families that receive certain welfare benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.

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