The Workers Party welcomes the government’s latest U-turn – forced by the outrage of the working class generally and the high-profile campaigning of England football star Marcus Rashford in particular – over the plight of hungry children in Britain, but we believe the state should go much further in ensuring a decent start for all Britain’s children.
Through the Covid winter grant scheme, the government has announced it is delivering £170 million to local authorities in England starting in December to cover a period until the end of March. This fund adds to the paltry £63 million distributed earlier this year and will be used to provide meals to children of families in receipt of Universal Credit.
Boris Johnson’s government claims this “will allow councils to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays. Local councils understand which groups need support, and are best placed to ensure appropriate support is provided – which is why they will distribute the funds, rather than schools, who will continue providing meals for disadvantaged children during term-time.”
All children in our society are disadvantaged because of the economics of capitalism. These amounts of spending approved by politicians are paltry compared to the money they fork out on the education of their own children. The average yearly spend by wealthy parents on private school fees is £18,000 per child – and that’s before the money spent on food, clothing and extra-curricular activities.
Indeed, so much is being lavished on the education of the elite that the private schools alone contribute £4.7 billion a year in tax revenues (despite the charitable status of many of them, which allows them to dodge a fair proportion of taxes), more than enough to pay for the school dinners of their poorer compatriots.
Here at the Workers Party, we don’t stop at demanding free lunches for those on benefits. We believe that ALL children in state education should be receiving both a nutritious breakfast and a nutritious lunch every day at school, no matter what their financial or home circumstances.
Study after study has proven the importance of good nutrition for healthy brain development, for physical and mental wellbeing, for concentration and coordination, and for all aspects of learning. Why would we risk the chance of any of our children – the nation’s next generation of workers and leaders – failing to develop their potential and capacities to the full for the want of a decent meal?