The parents of infant pupils in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend could be £400 a year worse off as of next week, because the Welsh Labour Government has failed to adopt a free school meals initiative being promoted to all schools in England by Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.
The UK Government have adopted the initiative being promoted by the Liberal Democrats that will ensure that from September 2014 every child in an infant school in England will get free school meals, saving families over £400 a year per child. However, despite receiving extra money from Westminster to follow suit the Welsh Labour Government has decided to spend it elsewhere.
Commenting on the initiative, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black said: “A healthy and nutritious meal at lunchtime for all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will save parents money, improve children’s education, and make sure more children eat a healthy and nutritious meal at least once a day. Universal free school meals were shown to work in the pilot schemes run by the Department for Education and Department of Health in 2009.
“I am disappointed therefore to see that the Welsh Labour Government has decided not to introduce the measure here. Whilst the parents of infant children in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend will continue to pay over £10 a week for their child to have a school meal at lunchtime, their English equivalents will get that food for free.
“More importantly many infant children in Wales will be forced to rely on unhealthy packed lunches instead because their parents cannot afford the cost of school meals. In some cases they will not get a hot meal at all. Thanks to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats that will not longer be the case in England as of next week. Why is the Welsh Labour Government not doing the same?”