Responding to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement, Magic Breakfast Chief Executive Dr Lindsey MacDonald said:
“The Chancellor spoke about long term decisions for a better future, but failing to invest in our children and young people’s future is the most short-sighted decision of all. This Autumn Statement does not meet the needs of the families Magic Breakfast supports. Their voices and experiences could be heard in our What’s for Breakfast report.
“Today could have been the moment that the Chancellor made the long-term decision to establish new hunger focused breakfast programmes which support the economy alongside delivering for children and young people. Instead, he didn’t mention the crisis of hunger in our communities, widening attainment gap, or the needs of the education sector. If education is to be the great leveller it must be supported, but this Government is allowing schools to face larger and larger funding crises.
“Magic Breakfast obviously welcomes a reduction in inflation, but it won’t make things any cheaper for the families we work with. Breakfast products such as fruit, bread, cereal, and milk, have gone up by an average of 10% in the year to October, more than double average inflation. All a reduction in inflation means is that those prices will continue to rise, just more slowly.
“Children and young people, and their families, need the support of their government now more than ever. That’s why we welcome the Chancellor’s decision to uprate benefits with inflation at 6.7% and unfreeze housing allowance, these are decisions that will support the families we work with. It won’t solve their problems though and we echo the concerns of our friends across the sector on new conditions the Chancellor has imposed on those accessing our shared safety net.
“At the same time, policies such as the extension of free school lunches would support children right now. Every day, our team sees the heartbreaking effect of child hunger in schools. A comprehensive suite of school food provision encompassing breakfast and lunch is the smart choice for a brighter future.
“My team and I stand ready to work with any party to craft policies that meet the real needs and fuel the futures of children and young people. The Chancellor could have met those needs today and chose not to. To lead is to choose, and we hope others will make different choices, including the Scottish Government ahead of next month’s budget.
“Magic Breakfast won’t just shout from the sidelines though. We’ll continue to support the 200,000 children and young people in the schools we work with, delivering fuel for learning each and every school day. This will be even more important as we know today’s decisions have only delayed many hard choices facing families.”