Labour pledges breakfast club access to all primary school children in England
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson is set to speak to the Labour Party Conference on Wednesday
Every primary school child in England would be offered access to fully funded breakfast clubs paid for by reinstating the top level of income tax under Labour plans.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson says the major extension of the scheme would be the “first step on the road to a modern childcare system”.
A child-poverty charity welcomed the proposal but urged Labour to go further to commit to universal after-school activities as well.
Labour has pledged to overturn the Government’s axing of the top income tax rate of 45% on earnings above £150,000.
It has already said it will use over half of the around £2 billion a year saved to train more district nurses, health visitors and midwives.
Labour says the breakfast plans cost £365 million a year, including funding to be sent to the devolved administrations.
Ms Phillipson will tell the party conference in Liverpool on Wednesday: “We need a fresh vision of that education. One that looks to the future, not the past.
“Labour will build a modern childcare system. One that supports families from the end of parental leave through to the end of primary school.
“As the first step on that road, we will introduce breakfast clubs for every primary school child in England, driving up standards in maths, reading, and writing, and giving mams and dads choices.”
She will also discuss ending tax breaks for private schools to widen access to arts, music and drama and building a modern careers advice and work experience system.
On the breakfast club plans, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said: “With four million children already in poverty and millions of parents struggling to stay afloat, now is the time to make this happen for families.
“We hope there is more to come – universal before- and after-school activities for kids of all ages would make a crucial difference.”
Currently only schools in disadvantaged areas are eligible for the programme, which gets a 75% subsidy from the Government.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Hunger is a real concern for school staff who regularly see children arriving in the morning without having eaten, and therefore not ready to learn.
“A positive start to the day and a nutritious breakfast before school for those who need it could make a real difference. If properly funded and resourced this entitlement is something school leaders would support.”
A Government spokeswoman responded: “We have expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades, which currently reach 1.9 million children.
“We are also investing up to £24 million in our national school breakfast programme, which provides free breakfasts to children in schools in disadvantaged areas.”Published: by Radio NewsHub