Plaid Cymru renews calls to expand free school meals to children in years 7-11

PLAID Cymru has renewed its calls on the Labour-run Welsh Government to expand free school meals to children in Years 7- 11 from families in receipt of Universal Credit, with no cap on earnings.


In a Senedd debate on Wednesday 10 January, the party will also highlight the failures of the Labour Government in tackling child poverty in Wales in relation to educational attainment.


Under Labour’s watch, one in three children live in poverty – a statistic which Plaid Cymru spokesperson for equalities, Sioned Williams MS says has remained “stubbornly high”.


In noting the correlation between child poverty and the education attainment gap for children in Wales, Ms Williams will cite the latest PISA results and national report which showed that 11% of learners in Wales had missed a meal because of poverty.


During the debate, Plaid Cymru will highlight several causes for this high volume of poverty, including the scrapping of child poverty targets, the Labour Welsh Government passing on UK Conservative Government cuts to services in Wales, and insufficient support for families during the on-going cost-of-living crisis.


Plaid Cymru spokesperson for social justice and equalities, Sioned Williams MS, said:


“The fact that one in three children in Wales live in poverty should be cause for national scandal. But when the Labour Welsh Government scrapped its own targets for eradicating child poverty, and have delayed publishing a new child poverty strategy, is it any wonder that the number remains so stubbornly high?


“In Wales, we are fortunate to have hard working public servants – teachers, social workers, council workers – and third sector workers, all committed to helping the development of our children and tackling child poverty. But time and time again their work is undermined by competing budgetary pressures and a lack of clear focus from Welsh Government.


“There is so much than needs to be done, including publishing and implementing a statutory target-driven plan to tackle child poverty, to help close the attainment gap and improve education outcomes.


“Providing more children with a free, nutritious school meal is one way to help level the playing field. That’s why Plaid Cymru is calling for all children in Years 7- 11 whose families are in receipt of Universal Credit – with no cap on earnings – to receive a free school meal. Because poverty doesn’t stop in primary school.


“Tackling child poverty in Wales should be a priority for Labour and they need to do everything in their power to mitigate the devastating effects of poverty on attainment and give every child in Wales the best start in life.”


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