Press Release – Free School Meals could benefit more than 4,000 children in D&G

MSP CONDEMNS LABOUR FOR VOTING AGAINST FREE SCHOOL MEALS

 

SNP MSP Dr Aileen McLeod has today condemned the Labour party for its decision to vote against the Scottish Government’s decision to provide healthy free school meals to all pupils in P1-P3.

 

As part of a £114 million package for young people over two years, every one of Scotland’s P1 to P3 children will have the option of a free meal in school from January next year, improving health and wellbeing, increasing attainment and saving families at least £330 a year for each child.

 

The announcement was warmly welcomed by a coalition of children’s charities who have been campaigning for this policy

 

In Dumfries & Galloway, around 4500 children are eligible to benefit from this announcement based on the latest available figures. Primary 1 pupils already have the option of a free school meal thanks to the actions of SNP Councillors but the policy will still benefit around 2900 pupils in P2 and P3 from next January.

 

The First Minister also announced that free childcare provision would also be expanded to every two year-old from a workless household in Scotland – around 8,400 children or 15 per cent of all two year-olds – by August this year.

 

And by August next year, free childcare provision will be extended further, reaching 15,400 children across Scotland – 27 per cent of all two year-olds – by widening entitlement to families that received certain welfare benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.

 

However, Labour MSPs this week voted against the policy in the Scottish Parliament – to reactions of incredulity in the Chamber.

 

Aileen McLeod MSP has now called on the Labour party to explain to the people of Dumfries & Galloway how their vote against this policy will benefit local kids.

 

Commenting, Dr McLeod said:

 

“This week’s debate completely exposed Labour’s narrow partisan agenda. In their determination to attack everything proposed by the SNP, the Labour party ended up voting against policies which Labour themselves have claimed to support.

 

“But opposing free school meals is of course exactly what they were doing – and now they have to explain their actions to the coalition of charities which has campaigned for this policy.

 

“I was proud this week to vote for the rollout of healthy free school meals to all children in Primaries 1 to 3, and a significant expansion of childcare provision.

 

“The Scottish Government will always do everything it can with the powers it has to act in Scotland’s interests. Labour’s shambolic actions this week show once again that only the full powers of independence offer us the chance to build on what we have already achieved and make a truly transformational change.”

 

Notes to editors:

 

For more details on this week’s Scottish Government announcements see

http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Supporting-Scotland-s-families-81d.aspx

 

For details of the Scottish Parliament vote, see:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8728&mode=html#iob_78949

 

Campaigners welcome First Minister’s universal free school meals announcement

http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/campaigners-welcome-first-minister%E2%80%99s-universal-free-school-meals-announcement

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