ALBA Party up calls for School Meal debt to be scrapped for 30,000 children
ALBA Party’s Holyrood leader Ash Regan MSP has today called on the Scottish Government to intervene to scrap school meal debt for 30,000 Scottish children.
Speaking today in the Scottish Parliament, Alba Party’s Holyrood leader also called on the Scottish Government to fund the expansion of universal entitlement to free school meals for all school children as part of the upcoming Scottish budget.
Research published by Alba Party in Spring showed that across Scotland over 21,000 children were in debt to local authorities over unpaid lunches but this figure has now drastically risen to over 30,000 as families continue to feel the pinch of the cost of living crisis.
Alba Party want Humza Yousaf to step in to ensure Councils wipe the debt clear as part of this year’s budget.
Ash Regan MSP has also drawn attention to the fact that the threshold for being eligible for free school meals now lags significantly behind historic inflation.
Income thresholds for free school meal eligibility have barely risen in the last twenty years. In 2002, low-income working families with an income of less than £13,230 were eligible for free school meals. Today that income threshold has risen to £18,725. However, adjusted for inflation, the income threshold from two decades ago would be the equivalent of around £27,855 in 2023. A person over the age of 21 working full time on next year’s minimum wage would earn £20,048 but would not be eligible for their children to receive free school meals.
Speaking today in the Scottish Parliament Alba Party Holyrood leader Ash Regan MSP said:
“The families of 30,000 children across Scotland are in debt because of the cost of school meals. The threshold for free school meal eligibility has barely risen in the last 20 years. In 2002, low-income working families with an income of less than £13,200 were eligible, today that threshold has increased to just under £19,000.
"However, if that threshold had been increased in line with inflation the income threshold of twenty years ago would now be the equivalent of just under £28,000 so the Scottish Government should consider maximising eligibility for free school meals for low-income working families to reduce financial hardship, to reduce school meal debt and tackle the cost of living crisis.”