Lack of Government cash lets council down

Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim councillor Louise Nicol. (Angus Council)Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim councillor Louise Nicol. (Angus Council)
Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim councillor Louise Nicol. (Angus Council)
A broken Scottish Government promise to provide free school meals for P6/7 pupils is a “source of shame” for Angus Council, a member of its children and learning committee has said.

This year’s programme for government stated Scottish ministers would "provide free school lunches for all primary school children, including provision in the school holidays for those who need it most" by this month.

Local authority umbrella body Cosla has said, however, that no money has been allocated to pay for the upgrade kitchen facilities.

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Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, has now said the First Minister had only promised to "fund" the free lunches and it was up to councils themselves to provide them.

Councillor Louise Nicol is the Scottish Conservative spokesperson on the local authority’s children and learning committee.

She said: “There’s been no money to actually build and equip the kitchens and serving facilities to feed more pupils in Angus.

"I’ll be bringing this up at committee to get answers and hopefully a solution while we wait for that.

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"It’s a source of shame for the council and officers shouldn’t have to make apologies to pupils when it’s out of their control.

“At a time when the global cost of living crisis is putting huge pressures on family finances, children shouldn’t be paying the price for SNP mismanagement.”

She also said that the Scottish Government’s provision of free meals should go further than it already does.

She added: “Extending the meals to all years of primary school will have a major impact on many families, away from the classroom.

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“We should also offer breakfasts for all primary and special school pupils, so they aren’t going hungry and are ready to learn.

“But that won’t happen until our under-resourced council is given the funding it needs to serve up these meals.”

Katie Hagmann, the Cola resource spokeswoman, and Tony Buchanan, the children's spokesman, both SNP councillors, issued a joint statement. "Revenue funding for 22-23 has been provided but capital funding to support the expansion of kitchen and dining facilities is yet to be agreed," it said.