A cash-crisis council is looking to axe kids’ healthy free meals to save £500,000. Officials in the SNP-led Glasgow City Council have drawn up plans to close the doors to hungry children during school holidays – despite rising demand.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “This is yet another savage cut to the Glaswegians most in need from the SNP. These are cuts made in Scotland, for Scotland by the SNP Government, delivered by an SNP council too scared to stand up for their city.
“The people of Glasgow deserve better than SNP cuts and neglect.”
We revealed the council is eyeing £51million of cuts to the education budget to help fill a £68million black hole. A separate item being considered is scaling back the Children’s Holiday Food Programme used by 16,000 kids.
The CHFP was jointly funded last year by £500,000 of council cash and around £1.6m from the Scottish Government.
An options paper obtained by this newspaper reveals a proposal to remove council funding and rely on the Government money.
But it also warns of the “risk” in scrapping a scheme that a growing number of families rely on:
“Given the current cost of living crisis, demand for the programme has risen and is likely to continue to do so.
“Anecdotal feedback from some delivery organisations is that they have had to restrict attendance of children and families to two days per week in order to meet rising demand.”
The document made clear the implications of the cut: “The national funding is only likely to cover the summer offer and the programme for the October, February and Easter holidays would therefore not be delivered if the council funding is removed.”
A council source said Labour backed cutting the scheme last year, adding that their criticism is “hypocritical”.
Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said: “Councils are starting to think the unthinkable because they have been starved of funding for years on end by this SNP government.
“If these cuts go ahead, vulnerable kids will end up going without food. The Scottish Government need to look again at the funding settlement for local government to stave off these cuts.”
A Glasgow council spokesman said: “As part of the annual budget-setting process, a cross-party group of councillors works with officers to scrutinise and develop options on where savings and investment could be considered.
“Political groups will present their budget proposals next month – and it is for them to decide whether they wish to include any of these options.
“For example, this particular option was also included at this stage last year – and, although it was included in the proposals put forward by some groups, it was not part of the budget passed by council.”
The £51m of cuts flagged by council officials included axing 800 teacher posts, moving to a shorter school week and axing free swimming classes.
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