Stephen Hepburn: School meals plan is fair and popular

Labour plans to introduce free school meals for all primary pupils.
Labour plans to introduce free school meals for all primary pupils.

Free school meals for every primary school pupil passes my fair and popular tests.Fair because Labour’s promise of a free dinner for every child if our party wins the General Election would be funded by VAT on the private school fees of a wealthy elite buying a privileged start in life.

It beats me how posh schools like Eton charging the gilded few £37,062 a year, or similar establishments catering for the world’s bankers and oligarchs, are allowed to get away with being charities.

I think of charities as voluntary organisations full of wonderful fundraisers who are raising money to find a cure for cancer or help the community – not snooty organisations to give the rich a leg up in life.

So nationally the 7% sending their heirs to these bastions of advantage paying a tax levied on much of what the rest of us purchase in shops is very sensible when redistributed to a good cause such as feeding the 93% less well off.

And fair is popular when virtually every family with a son or daughter in a primary on South Tyneside would benefit if they no longer needed to find £2.10 a day, £10.50 a week, for school dinners. That’s saving £4.10 daily or £21 a week if they have two kids in the school.

The kids of the poorest families quite rightly receive free meals but this fully-costed policy would benefit working class families who graft hard and middle class homes which deserve something back for their taxes.

Despite claims her Tory lot are “fairer” that they used to be its crystal clear that Theresa May’s Conservatives are as cruel and nasty as when she sat at the top table in David Cameron’s day.

Up to 80% of tax giveaways in the next year will go to the better-off half of households, according to the highly respected Resolution Foundation. The poorest third will shoulder 67% of the benefit cuts and could lose £2,000 a year.

In the week Food Bank charity volunteers serve nearly 140,000 meals to hungry children this Easter across the country the Tories continued their war on the working poor. The Tories are decreeing kids will go hungry if you have more than two and find yourself on low wages or unemployed.

Those claiming the work-related activity component of Employment and Support Allowance, a benefit available for those who are unable to work because of sickness, but are expected find work in future, will lose £30 a week.

And it isn’t fair that at the other end of life the amount a lucky few receive tax-free in inheritance is going up to £500,000 and if a property is involved as much as £1m.

I’m proud Labour’s free school meals plan is fair and popular. Tory policies are unfair and I’m confident they’ll be unpopular when people realise the crimes against decency committed by May’s Conservatives.