Autumn Statement, free school meals and Barnett consequentials
Speaking ahead of the UK Autumn Statement on 5 December, John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:
"The Autumn Statement is a vital opportunity for the Chancellor to reverse a forecast explosion in child poverty by investing in childcare support within the new Universal Credit, raising the national minimum wage and uprating benefits and tax credits in line with inflation.
The Chancellor also needs to set out clearly the Barnett consequentials from the UK government promise to provide free school meals to all pupils in the early years of primary school in England. But, whatever the outcome of the Chancellors statement, the Scottish Government must also prioritise children and families in its budget and deliver on its own long standing promise to give every child in P1 to P3 a free healthy school lunch."
Current UK government policies are forecast to drive 70,000 more children into poverty by 2020. But this is not inevitable. The Chancellor has legislative, spending and tax raising powers which could immediately lift thousands of families out of poverty, whilst the Scottish government can act now to support families in the face of damaging UK policies.
CPAG in Scotland believes that 5 the Autumn Statement 2013 should;
- Clearly identify Barnett consequentials resulting from the UK Government decision to provide Free School Meals to P1-P3 children in England. In September 2013, the UK Government announced that all pupils in the first three years of primary school in England will receive a free school lunch from September 2014 with reported Barnett consequentials of around £60 million to be made available to the Scottish Government. These funds should be clearly identified in the Autumn Statement 2013. Whatever the Barnett consequentials, the Scottish Government must prioritise resources in its budget to deliver on its own longstanding commitment to provide free school meals to all pupils in P1 to P3.
For more information, you can download CPAG's Chief Executive's full letter to the chancellor, and CPAG's media pre-briefing on the Autumn Statement here.