Angela Constance MSP has welcomed the announcement that every primary school pupil in Almond Valley will be eligible for free school meals, all year around, if re-elected in May.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, set out this latest step in the drive to tackle child poverty and make Scotland the first nation in the UK to offer universal free primary school meals at the SNP annual conference this weekend.
The Scottish Government previously extended eligibility for a free school lunch to all P1 to P3 pupils while P4 to P7 pupils are eligible based on a range of income and benefits criteria.
Now, in the face of predictions that Westminster cuts will drive child poverty rates even higher, the expansion - estimated to cost around £230 million per year in additional expenditure - will introduce a free year-round breakfast and lunch for all primary school pupils from August 2022.
Ms Constance said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has put real financial pressure on families, and it’s right that the Scottish Government ensured that children across West Lothian would continue to receive free school meals over the holidays.
“But we will not stop there. If the SNP is re-elected in May, every single primary school pupil in West Lothian will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, all year round.
“And unlike the Tories, we didn’t have to be publicly shamed and condemned into choosing to feed hungry children – that is the basic duty of any government.
The Scottish Government extended provision of free school meals to all P1 to P3 pupils in January 2015.
This has been fully funded through the provision of an additional £53.9 million revenue funding in all financial years since the policy was introduced as well as an initial £24.8 million of capital funding.
Currently, from P4 onwards, free school meals are available to children where their parents and carers are in receipt of prescribed qualifying benefits. A full list of criteria can be found at https://www.mygov.scot/school-meals/
Current estimates suggest that the provision of free school meals saves families
an average £400 per child per year.
Unit 4, Ochil House, Beveridge Square, Livingston, West Lothian, EH54 6QF