Supporting families with cost of school

Budget sets out £4.85 billion investment in Education and Skills.

A range of measures to help children, parents and carers with costs around school have been set out in the Scottish Government’s budget. These include expansion of free school meals in primary schools, holiday food provision and investment to ensure the school clothing grant national minimum of £120 for primary pupils and £150 for secondary pupils.

The spending plans for 2023-24 allocates £4.85 billion of funding across the education and skills portfolio, including measures to address the cost of living crisis.

New investment will see free school meals expanded to primary six and seven pupils in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment – the next step in Scottish Government plans to deliver universal free school meals in primary schools.

It also includes £22 million of continued support to provide meals during the school holidays to children who need them most, along with £200 million for the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

In addition, the budget allocates £50 million of funding to continue to support the Whole Family Wellbeing programme of activity, a key pillar of The Promise, to support families to thrive.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I am committed to improving the life chances of all Scotland’s children, young people and learners. The measures set out in these spending plans are driven by our ambition to enable everybody to reach their full potential.

“We know the toll that the cost of living crisis has taken on families and households across Scotland and investment is being made in a range of important measures which will help mitigate the impact of this.

“The expansion of free school meals in primary schools continues, providing a benefit in kind of around £400 per child for families, while the ongoing investment in the school clothing grant and access to digital devices will help those who need it most.

“Our ongoing commitment to free university tuition means that, unlike elsewhere in the UK, Scottish domiciled students do not incur additional debt of up to £27,750, and average student loan debt in Scotland remains the lowest in the UK.

“In Scotland we also have the most teachers-per-pupil, along with the highest per-pupil education spend anywhere in the UK. We will continue to provide local authorities with funding of £145.5 million per year to support the teaching workforce, as part of the overall local government settlement of £13.2 billion.

“Our commitment to closing the poverty related-attainment gap remains paramount and that is why we will invest a further £200 million next year in the Scottish Attainment Challenge – as part of our £1 billion commitment in this Parliament.”

The measures set out in the budget to help reduce the cost of school include:

  • Providing more than £13 million to uprate the School Clothing Grant in line with inflation.
  • Investing an additional £16 million resource and £80 million capital to fund the expansion of Free School Meals for all Primary 6 and 7 pupils in receipt of the Scottish Child Payment, as the next step in fulfilling the commitment to universal provision in primary schools
  • Continuing to invest £22 million to provide meals during school holidays to the children who need them most.
  • Maintaining subsidy arrangements for the provision of milk and working with partners on a phased approach to the delivery of a universal milk scheme, aligned to the expansion of free school meals.
  • Investing £20 million towards the commitment to ensure every school-aged child, over the lifetime of the parliament, has access to a digital device to support their learning
  • Investment of nearly £2 billion towards Scotland’s universities and colleges to support delivery of high-quality education and training. This includes a cash increase of £20 million in the Higher Education resource budget compared to 2022-23, and a cash increase of £33.7 million in the Further Education resource and capital budget.

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