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In yet another U-turn/backtrack/good ol’-fashioned lie, it has been revealed that the Tories’ recent promise of an extra £26m in funding for school breakfast clubs has already been made.
On 19th March 2018, Education Secretary Damien Hinds announced that the Government would be putting an extra £26m in funding towards school breakfast clubs. The money would come from revenue generated by the so-called Sugar Tax.
However, following a written question from Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner on 26th March 2018, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi was forced to admit that the Government announcement was merely a repeat of an existing pledge.
The Government was forced to concede that the pledge had in fact been made months ago. Not only this, but in his announcement, Damien Hinds failed to mention that the funding would be spread out over 3 years.
Broken down, the funding equates to an extra £1m in 2017-2018, and £12.5m respectively between 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. All in all, £12.5m a year equates to 1p per school child per day, given that there are 4.7m Primary School children in England and that number does not look set to drop any time soon.
The embarrassing revelation comes on the back of the Tories’ woeful General Election promise of £60m in funding for school breakfasts, which would cost out at around 7p per pupil per day – enough for half a boiled egg. This was before the Tories backtracked on the pledge, in any event.
More recently, Damien Hinds was forced to backtrack on his statement that funding for education had increased under the Tories after he was reported to the Statistics Watchdog for his inaccurate statement in Parliament.
About the latest revelation over funding for school breakfast clubs, Angela Rayner said this:
“Once again, the Education Secretary has been caught trying to fiddle the figures rather than face the facts. […] The so-called new money for breakfasts isn’t new, is spread over years and isn’t remotely enough to make up for the children being denied free school meals under the Tories’ Universal Credit. […] The Education Secretary has already been slapped down by the statistics watchdog for wrongly claiming that schools are getting more money when the Tories have cut billions from their budgets. Now another one of his claims is falling apart.”
The humiliating U-turn has taken place against a back drop of increased numbers of children in this country consigned to poverty as head teachers report them turning up to school in dirty clothes and stuffing food in their pockets to take home with them.
The fact that children who go to school having eaten a hearty breakfast perform better is well known. Specifically, breakfast clubs in deprived areas saw children who attended them getting better results in maths and literacy.
In the light of this, it is damaging and destructive to know that a Tory Government is wrenching funding for necessary nutrition from children in families that cannot afford to provide it for them. This Government is actively sabotaging the chances of children in deprived areas, further entrenching inequality and contributing to the cycle of social degradation. What’s more, the Tories do it while covering themselves with repetitions of paltry policies that aren’t fit for purpose in the first place.