Tory Cynical School Breakfast 'Pledge' Five Times Manifesto Costing


TORY CYNICAL SCHOOL BREAKFAST 'PLEDGE' FIVE TIMES MANIFESTO COSTING The Tory manifesto pledge to provide free breakfast for every primary school pupil in England would cost five times what the party has stated, academics have warned. The Tories will axe universal free school meals and replace them with a cheaper scheme to provide breakfasts at school but experts analysing the plans costed them at between £200 million and £400 million – well above the £60 million stated in the Tory Manifesto. A Tory Party spokesman said the original costing of the offer was based on a 25% take-up rate of a charitable programme, at a cost of only 25 pence per meal, but admitted the cost could rise. However figures compiled by the Education Datalab think-tank showed that even if just one in five of the 3.6 million primary school pupils ate just 25p worth of food, the costs for the daily breakfast clubs would cost £100 million a year more than the party’s estimate. Speaking at an Education Media Centre press briefing, Dr Rebecca Allen, Director, Education Datalab said: "The Tories say it's going to cost £60m but we think it's going to cost between £200 million and £400 million. It's a problem because they want to scrap universal free school meals for infants. "We think that they can't manage to do that if they are going to deliver free school breakfasts." The Manifesto vow was to replace giving free lunches to all state school pupils up until the age of seven, with the estimated £650 million savings to be recycled in to England’s stretched education budget. Dr Allen believes the move to put the savings back into the overall budget would be incompatible with providing free breakfasts. The research team also found that the estimated 25% take-up rate failed to account for a potential rise in parents using the clubs as a childcare substitute. “If breakfast clubs in schools act as a proper childcare substitute, we would presume that in the long run parents would switch from their existing provision of childminders and commercial providers into free breakfast clubs and therefore we think take-up would be substantially in excess of 20%,” Dr Allen added. Furthermore, the study queried the validity of the Tory costings, which they say were based on a scheme known as Magic Breakfast, which relied on volunteers and thus did not account for staffing costs. Patricia Gibson commented: “In Scotland the SNP Government will retain free school lunches in the first three years of primary school. The Tories want to take meals from young children with a spurious and cynically underfunded ‘breakfast pledge.’ “In Scotland our universal provision provides the nutritious and well-balanced meal young children need if they are to enjoy work and play to the full. It is a sign of Tory priorities that they want to deprive young and often deprived children of a meal with plans for breakfasts they have not bothered to properly cost. “Luckily the Tory remit does not extend to Scottish schools but this kind of policy is a flavour of just how the Tories intend to rule the UK. That’s why a strong team of SNP MPs is essential to fight them every step of the way!”

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