Milngavie MSP welcomes free school meals move

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Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement of free school meals for all Primary 1-3 children and the expansion of free childcare.

The £114million investment in children was announced in Parliament by First Minister Alex Salmond, but Mr Paterson has criticised the Labour Party for voting against it.

He said: “I am delighted that this money will be invested in children, but completely disgusted that the Labour Party chose to play party politics by voting against the plan. I am at a loss for words on this one.

“The difference this will make to many children and families in Milngavie and Bearsden will be enormous – a healthy cooked meal for all, regardless of their circumstances. This will save families £330 per child – vital as the Welfare Cuts from Westminster are being stepped up.

“I fully understand that some people may feel they can afford to pay for their children’s lunches, but I would urge them to support this initiative, as it will remove the stigma from those who need to claim it but don’t, because they don’t want to feel singled out.

“It’s just a pity we had to wait to get this money from Westminster under a withheld budget before being able to do this – another example of how much we need to independence to allow us to prioritise our spending for the well-being of the people in Scotland.

“How the Labour Party can hold their heads up after shunning children and vulnerable people by voting against this is beyond me – their performance has been shambolic and shows just how little they intend to do to stop the cuts coming from their Tory colleagues in the No Campaign.”

The investment will see free school meals for every one of Scotland’s P1 to P3 children from January next year, the time the experts say is most crucial for the well-being of children as they develop for future years; free childcare provision expanded to every two year-old from households seeking work in Scotland – around 8,400 children or 15 per cent of all two year-olds – by August this year.

In addition, free childcare provision will be extended further by August 2015, reaching 15,400 children – 27 per cent of all two-year-olds – by widening entitlement to families that received certain welfare benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance.