Renfrewshire Green MSP Ross Greer says a £47k local school dinner debt should be written off.
A Freedom of Information Request submitted by the Scottish Greens has found that children and families in Renfrewshire owe £47,346.36 to Renfrewshire Council, with the national figure totalling over one million pounds.
This is despite all P1-5 pupils in Scotland now being entitled to a free school meal.
Green MSP Ross Greer, who represents the West of Scotland and is a member of Parliament’s Education Committee said: “Children can’t get a good education if they’re hungry at school. I believe that Renfrewshire Council rightly ensures every pupil has a meal at lunchtime, even if they don’t have the money to cover it, but these figures make it clear that debts are being chased from families who simply can’t pay.
“With the cost of living crisis putting huge pressure on family finances, this is the right time to write off all outstanding school meal debt. Pursuing the debt is causing stress and embarrassment for pupils and their families but I know that staff are deeply uncomfortable asking pupils for money they know the family does not have.
“I’m proud that as a result of the cooperation agreement between the Greens and SNP we are rolling out free school meals to all primary school children, as well as taking other measures to help family budgets such as free bus travel for under 22s.
“Writing off this debt would be an excellent way for Renfrewshire to also help families with the financial burdens they face, rather than add to them.”
Renfrewshire Council told Renfrewshire News they will work with parents who have significant debt accruing for school lunches and all children receive a school meal regardless of what credits or debts they have on their account.