You may be aware of the recent debate over free school meals provision in Tower Hamlets. Under my mayoralty, Tower Hamlets has led the way as one of the first boroughs to introduce universal free school meals for infants. The government has since adopted this as a national policy, funding meals for all infants across the country.
So now I’m proud to announce that we will be extending this provision to all primary school children, from Reception to Year 6.
This is fantastic news: all data shows that universal free school meals provision results in a dramatic improvement not only in pupils’ health but in educational attainment.
The Opposition have falsely claimed on social media sites that rather than introducing universal free school meals, this administration has blocked the policy. This could not be further from the truth.
The Labour Party’s budget was clearly cobbled together on the back of an envelope, and they seem to have mistakenly funded meals for the financial year rather than the academic year! They put aside £1.3m, but the council’s expert officials have calculated that the real cost will be £2.3m! To risk our kids going hungry from April for an election stunt is beyond contempt. That is why we have turned down their half-baked plan – and for maximum transparency, I’ve reproduced the civil servants’ detailed analysis of it below.
However, I pledge to you that we will bring forward a properly costed alternative at the next meeting of Council that will see all our kids in primary schools receive free meals from this year onwards.
OFFICERS’ COMMENTS ON ALTERNATIVE BUDGET PROPOSAL
BY THE LABOUR PARTY
The following sets our comments by officers
on a proposal offered up in the budget amendment. Members of the Council should take this advice into
consideration when considering and debating the amendment in question.