In response to the Scottish Government’s 2023-24 Budget Statement, Magic Breakfast’s Chief Executive – Dr Lindsey MacDonald – has said:
“This morning, as Mr Swinney put the finishing touches on his budget preparations, thousands of children and young people throughout Scotland were arriving at school too hungry to learn. When MSPs are asked to approve today’s budget early next year, it should be these young Scots at the forefront of their minds.
At Magic Breakfast, we acknowledge the bleak picture Mr Swinney painted today of the economic position in Scotland. The decisions he must make are hard. At the same time, it is these decisions that show the values that underpin the Scottish Government. We broadly welcome many of the measures announced in today’s statement, including a commitment to the Scottish Child Payment and an increase in funding to local authorities.
However, today’s budget did not allocate specific new funding to deliver the Scottish Government’s commitment to universal breakfast provision in all Primary and Special schools. Whilst the Deputy First Minister made mention of new investments in school food, breakfast lay conspicuously absent.
Breakfast can be the key to unlocking the potential of children and young people from Ullapool to Uddingston. It has been robustly proven to help children focus, concentrate and learn to the best of their ability. As Magic Breakfast said in our response to the Scottish Government’s National Conversation on Education earlier this month, ‘the right of every child and young person to have the opportunities needed to fulfil their potential should be the bedrock of the future Scottish education system.’
More investment is needed at the start of the school day to support the next generation of Scotland’s citizens. A lack of funding today means an unstable future tomorrow. As part of the Scottish Government’s clear commitment to a fairer Scotland I would continue to urge the Government, and local authorities, to ensure that funding is delivered in a way that emphasises proven policy interventions.
Today’s budget announcement made clear that in the next financial year the Scottish Government will not deliver on its commitment to breakfast. I urge the Government to move at a faster pace to ensure the current generation of Primary aged children do not lose out. It is the sincere hope of Magic Breakfast that this choice to delay provision means the Scottish Government will use this time to design the world leading breakfast provision that Scotland can deliver.
As a charity that works with children and young people who are at risk of morning hunger every day, Magic Breakfast understands the negative and lasting impact hunger can have on a child’s life. I would urge decision-makers to listen to those who matter most here. Earlier this year we asked what pupils thought of their breakfast provision, this is what one young Scot had to say:
‘My day is made after I have had my breakfast, I’m able to perform better at my favourite subject.’
Their story should be the story of all of Scotland’s children and young people.”