SNP to extend free school meals in Glasgow

Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken, who led the SNP to its first local authority election victory in the city last year. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken, who led the SNP to its first local authority election victory in the city last year. Picture: John Devlin
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Free meals will be provided for pupils who need them throughout school holidays as part of a plan by Scotland’s largest council to boost attainment.

Councillors in Glasgow voted today to set aside £2m for the scheme, while also extending the existing free school meal allowance to all pupils in primaries one - four.

Around 1,500 pupils of the 6,000 in primary four classes in the city are already eligible for free school meals, while a further 1,300 use the service but currently pay for it.

“We will feed more of our children in school and more out of school,” said councillor Allan Gow, city treasurer. “We will invest £2m so all children receive a hot meal during school holidays, working with the third sector.”

The proposal was one of the flagship policies put forward by the city’s new SNP administration, who ended four decades of continuous Labour municipal rule at last year’s local authority elections.

But the SNP had to rely on the votes of Green councillors to ensure their first budget passed as the party lacks an overall majority.

Council tax in Glasgow will rise by three per cent, despite Tory opposition, in a bid to a plug a potential spending gap.

Conservative councillor Euan Blockley challenged his Nationalist counterparts to put news of the rise “in your leaflets at the next election, and see what reponse you get on the doorstep.”

Labour member and former council leader Frank McAveety told the chamber the “Yes alliance” of the SNP and Greens “was afraid to say no” to Holyrood finance secretary Derek Mackay as he put forward his party’s alternative budget proposal.

SNP council leader Susan Aitken said: “This is a budget that delivers for Glasgow. By creating 150 permament new front-line jobs in land and environmental services, we’re adding capacity to our core services and investing in cleaner, vibrant neighbourhoods. This is a much needed shift from the short-term thinking of the past.”

As previously reported in The Scotsman, the SNP group - backed by the Greens - also plans to bring Scotland’s largest arms-length management organisation back in-house.

Cordia, set up in 2008 to provide services ranging from school catering to home care, would be divided between the local authority’s development and regeneration services division and Glasgow Life.