6 March 2024

Our response to the budget 2024

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Written by Magic Breakfast Team

Home > What we do > News and views > Our response to the budget 2024

Responding to the chancellor of the exchequer’s 2024 budget statement, Magic Breakfast Chief Executive Dr Lindsey MacDonald said:   

“With one in four children in this country at risk of being too hungry to learn, the further reductions in national and local spending announced by the chancellor in his budget today are the wrong choices for the country and our children. They will mean further cuts to essential services for our schools and families that desperately need them. The education and futures of our most vulnerable children and young people will be put at risk and the growing attainment gap and attendance crisis will likely worsen. 

Ahead of the budget, Magic Breakfast was very pleased to be able to sign joint letters led by Barnardo’sStop the Squeeze, and the IPPR, calling for essential support funding and services to be protected. In response, the chancellor’s announcements on extension of the Household Support Fund, the increase in the repayment period for Universal Credit budget advance loans, removal of the debt relief order £90 charge, increase in the child benefit threshold, guaranteed childcare rates for providers and more places in SEND schools are all good news. 

However, the chancellor’s limit of 1% increase in day to day spending will mean deep cuts to unprotected budgets, such as local government. Requiring councils to produce public sector productivity plans will mean even deeper cuts to services in our communities. These services are already cut to the bone and seeing ever increasing demand. These plans for yet more cuts will mean more hunger in our classrooms and rising levels of destitution.  

The chancellor set out a plan to increase long term economic growth, but the measures he announced today will have the opposite effect. To drive sustained, high economic growth, the government must invest in schools and education. This must include the expansion of free school breakfast to more children and young people. We are pleased that the Department for Education announced an extension of the National School Breakfast Programme earlier this week, ensuring that 2,700 schools will continue to get free school breakfasts, so they do not start the day too hungry to learn. However, the NSBP only covers 25% of disadvantaged schools and places further financial burdens on over-stretched school budgets. 

The chancellor said he would champion policies that yield savings in the long term. As well as benefits for attainment, attendance, behaviour, wellbeing and health, research commissioned by Magic Breakfast shows that universal, hunger focused, stigma free school breakfasts deliver extensive long-term economic benefits for our country. The economic value of all disadvantaged key stage 1 pupils receiving a school breakfast for one year amounts to £2.7 billion for the public purse. This means that for every £1 invested in school breakfast at key stage 1, the return is over £50 in benefits. School breakfast provision can also play a vital role in enabling parents to work. 

We are therefore calling on the government to expand the National School Breakfast Programme, and restore levels of funding for education, schools and other essential services that our poorest children and families so heavily rely upon. Until we create a more equal society, this is not only crucial to reduce the widening educational attainment gap and attendance crisis, but also to deliver the long term high economic growth the country is striving for.” 

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6 March 2024

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