Glasgow Times

SNP bring forward plan to write off school meal debt


UNPAID school meal debt will be scrapped under a plan by the SNP at Glasgow City Council. If approved, reserve funds will be used to write off current debt thought to be around £ 300,000.

The plan will also shake up the school meals policy and ensure no child is turned away if they are unable to pay.

Last week the Glasgow Times reported on the Feed the Weans demo in George Square which called for universal free school meals and for debt to be scrapped.

Now, a proposal aimed at ensuring no child is denied a meal is to be brought forward for councillor­s to approve.

It is expected other parties will support the plan.

Christina Cannon, convener for education, said: “This cost- of- living crisis is pushing more and more people into poverty, and that includes many in- work households. Just because children don’t fall within the criteria for free school meals doesn’t mean their families aren’t facing real hardships and difficult choices.

“Young people themselves have told us through the recent Health and Wellbeing census that far too many of them are still going either to school or to bed undernouri­shed. In 2023, no child in this city should be going hungry.

“We hope by addressing school meal debt we are providing hardpresse­d Glaswegian­s with another layer of support at this time of need.”

Her motion will be heard next week and asks the council for agreement to “use reserves to write off current levels of school debt held locally, where that debt is over and above the equivalent of one month’s worth of meals”.

Earlier this month Unite the Union, Scottish Trades Union Congress ( STUC) and the Together Against Debt Campaign protested at the City Chambers.

They highlighte­d an issue where some low- income families just missed the income threshold for free school meals and were falling behind in paying for them.

Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader, said: “The UK Government has the powers and resources to step in and assist those families living with the dire consequenc­es of its mismanagem­ent and ideologica­l attacks. They have a responsibi­lity to.

“But the council has a responsibi­lity to do what it can, and it is in our gift to consider how we address the issue of school meal debt.

“School meal debt is, in all likelihood, a symptom of deeper financial challenges within a household.

“Identifyin­g those struggling with school meal debt would allow our financial inclusion teams to offer further positive interventi­ons to those they previously had no contact with.”

School meal debt is most likely a symptom of deeper financial issues within a home

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