Scottish Ministers urged to prioritise free school meals as Autumn Statement fails Scotland's children

December 5, 2013

Responding to today's (5 December) UK Autumn Statement John Dickie, Head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said

"The Chancellor has failed to take the action needed to reverse the explosion in child poverty forecast across Scotland and the rest of the UK, an explosion that results from his own government's unfair policies. Worse still an arbitrary cap on benefit spending risks making vulnerable children pay an even greater price for government failure. Disabled people and the poorest children are essentially being told that their basic support could be rationed to balance the books.

One piece of good news is confirmation that south of the Border all children in the first three years of primary will receive a free healthy school meal. It is now vital that the Scottish Government prioritises additional resources to deliver on its own promise to give every child in P1 to P3 a free healthy school lunch. The evidence is stronger than ever that universal free school lunches would boost attainment, promote health and wellbeing and relieve hard pressed family budgets in the face of damaging UK government cuts.”

From more information or interviews please contact John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland:

Tel: 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340618

Email: jdickie@cpagscotland.org.uk

ENDS

Notes to Editors

- The following chart is from the Impact on Households document published by the Chancellor today. It shows that, aside from the very richest quintile, the cumulative effect of the Coalition’s spending decisions on tax, benefits and services is highly regressive. It is an admission that the government is balancing the books on the backs of the poorest.

- The AME cap announced by the Chancellor today will provide a mechanism for rationing social security. The Autumn Statement section on the scope of the cap (see page 35) states that the state pension, JSA and JSA-passported benefits will be excluded. This implies that the main social security entitlements and benefits liable to be rationed under the cap will be:

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Child Benefit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Income support
  • Universal Credit (but only for people in work and disabled people)
  • Housing Benefit (but only for people in work and disabled people)

- CPAG wrote to the Chancellor calling for the Autumn Statement to address the living standards crisis with policies on:

  • Improving support with the cost of childcare to help working parents and improve work incentives
  • Setting out policies to progressively improve the real value of the National Minimum Wage, as recommended by the government’s advisory commission on social mobility and child poverty
  • Improving support through child benefit.

Our full letter and media briefing can be found on this page here.