Since I introduced free school meals for the reception and first year primary school children, they have been very popular. In a borough that has serious issues with child poverty, poor nutrition can hinder academic achievement, so adequate meals make a significant difference educationally, which is why I ensured that they were fully funded.
Of course, I have no problems with the Labour proposal to extend something my colleagues and I started. However, I am equally committed to the women’s work program, which also is a way of combatting family poverty, so I cannot accept the Labour proposal to scrap that to pay for an electoral gimmick – half a year’s funding for the extended school meal program.
I pledge to look for ways to fund the extension permanently but I oppose the Labour amendment for an expedient six month programme that will expire not so long after the election!