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Labour pledges free meals for all children ‘365 days a year’

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Labour pledges free meals for all children ‘365 days a year’

A UK Labour government will fund free meals for 700,000 children in Scotland from primary through to secondary school, Scottish Labour has pledged.

Scottish Labour will unveil its election manifesto in Glasgow on Friday morning, with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard pledging “UK Labour government will provide the funds for a free meal for every child 365 days a year, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds”.

Scottish Labour said the policy, which the party would introduce if it won the upcoming general election and then the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, would benefit 700,000 children. Labour’s calculations stated the policy would cost around £310m, which it said would require an additional £190m in funding at an 80 per cent take up rate.

It found the capital costs required to access the necessary infrastructure investment and services per £80m is estimated at £10m and the party had allocated a £25m lump sum to upgrade the relevant infrastructure and services to the capacity required to provide the school meal increase. The money would come from the block grant and then spent by the Scottish Government.

“It cannot be right that in the fifth biggest economy in the world, one in every four children in Scotland is living in poverty,” Leonard said.

“After a decade of Tory austerity and SNP complacency, it is time for real and radical change. For too long, many kids from the most impoverished families have gone to school hungry and been automatically disadvantaged simply due to their family's economic circumstances.”

He said Labour’s plan would tackle “the stigma that can prevent some children accessing free meals and the barriers that we know eligibility and registration create”.

“Children should not be put in a position where they are left behind through no fault of their own and through no fault of their family. Scottish Labour will end the scourge of child poverty once and for all,” Leonard said.

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