The SNP this week proposed a budget to extend free school meals to Primary 4 and Primary 5s, increase the school clothing grant by 30% and introduce Free at Three in 2020.

At the meeting of the full council, the Labour Party, backed by the Tories, moved a motion to remove the extension of free school meals in favour of implementing Free at Three in August this year.

During the debate, the opposition parties offered no substance to their proposal, instead insisting that council officers determine what sort of Free at Three South Lanarkshire should implement.

As a result of their amendment, the SNP’s plan to extend free school meals which would have benefitted 6,000 pupils will not be implemented.

Commenting after the budget, Council Leader, John Ross said:

“I am delighted that our budget passed today, which continues the progressive policies that we have been working to implement.

“As a result of our budget, up to 200 new council homes will be built, the school uniform grant will increase and the roll-out of breakfast clubs will be complete by the end of the year.

“I am however disappointed that the Labour Party and the Tories united to oppose one of the most progressive policies within it.

“By rejecting free school meals for primary 4 and 5, the Labour Party and the Tories have stopped 6,000 children and families benefiting from a nutritious meal at school.

“Instead they opted for a slogan without any substance in Free at Three, which will be difficult to implement in the timescales they outlined. It is up to them to justify their decision to the people they represent.

“It has been a pleasure to lead South Lanarkshire over the past few years, implementing our manifesto commitments to reduce poverty and increase educational attainment.

“Whilst the opposition parties have unbelievably rejected giving free meals to some of our youngest people, we will continue to work hard for everyone across South Lanarkshire.”