In response to the Programme for Government 2023-24: Equality, Opportunity, Community Magic Breakfast Chief Executive, Dr Lindsey MacDonald has said:
Today’s Programme for Government is an all too familiar announcement for young Scots. Far from ‘being on their side’ children and young people have again been forgotten by a government that promised them universal school breakfast provision in primary and special schools. Empty words and more empty tummies.
As we warned in a blog last week, today feels like it was the Scottish Government’s last chance to lay out an actionable plan for breakfast provision if they are to meet their commitment before the end of this term. Humza Yousaf has chosen to turn his back on that commitment and break that promise to young Scots.
Breakfast is a simple and powerful way to tackle poverty and inequality head on. It offers children and young people the best start to a day, fuels learning, and unlocks potential. From Nairn to Newton Stewart children and young people would benefit every day from the promise the Scottish Government made to them in 2021. That’s why it is so disappointing and irresponsible that the Government has chosen not to act. Politics is about choices and this choice is a bad one. Scots remain in the horrible position of having a government with both the highest level of claimed ambition and yet the lowest level of action on school breakfasts.
The First Minister confirming that they would meet pre-existing commitments to school lunches is welcome. As are plans to expand Scottish Government funded childcare. But we can only look on with dismay as the Government excludes the proven policy intervention of breakfast in its plans. The Government must make it clear whether they see universal breakfast provision as part of Scotland’s answer to childcare, because today’s Programme is silent.
Earlier this year we provided the SNP-Green Scottish Government with a costed proposal for how they could meet their commitment. The almost £27 million we estimate it would cost to deliver breakfast is an affordable figure for this government. We have also provided them with the mapping on current provision via our report, Hidden Hunger. The Government is stalling and thereby walking away from a chance to create opportunities, deliver social change and invest in children and Scotland’s future.