RCPCH responds to the Scottish Budget 2024-25

The Scottish Government has published its Scottish Budget for 2024 to 2025.
View from atop a hill at sunset

In response, RCPCH Officer for Scotland, Dr Mairi Stark, said:  

This year’s budget had a welcome commitment to continue free school meals for primary school children (P1 to 5) and in special schools. Additional funds were also made available to eventually extend free school meals for older children (P6 and 7) in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment and for Local Authorities to cancel free school meals debt. Free school meals are a lifeline for many families as they ensure children have at least one hot, nutritious meal per school day. As such, I would urge the Government to roll out free school meals for all primary school children as soon as possible.  

More widely though, today’s Budget committed to only increase the Scottish Child Payment in line with inflation to £26.70, which is a mere increase of £1.70. This is a drop in the ocean for families that are struggling in Scotland today. As paediatricians, we see the disastrous health impacts that growing up in poverty can have on children and young people’s physical and mental health, and we know that the best way to tackle child poverty is to put money back in families' pockets. Further increasing the Scottish Child Payment will have a real impact, so we urge the Scottish Government to do so without delay.