The Scottish National Party (SNP) have renewed calls for the UK Government to halt its austerity agenda after a recent Scottish Parliament Committee report showed that pupils are being chastised or sent home from school as families are unable to afford school uniform.
At SNP conference in Glasgow, delegates passed a motion which considered the recent report from Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee on the impact of poverty on attainment in schools.
Carol Monaghan MP, SNP Education Spokesperson at Westminster called on the UK Government to ‘wake up’ and fix the results of its austerity agenda which are forcing families into poverty.
A number of testimonies to the Committee referenced the cruel Tory cuts to social security as a reason for being unable to afford school uniform.
The party took action to address the cost of uniform by committing to a £100 school clothing grant, which benefits an estimated 120,000 families.
This guarantees a minimum level of support across Scotland to provide for those struggling to meet the costs of school uniform. Before this policy, there was disparity between councils for the level of support that could be recieved across Scotland.
The SNP at Holyrood have taken wider action to tackle child poverty, including saving families an estimated £360 per year per child with the expansion of the free school meals programme as well as investing £1 million to ensure children get healthy meals during school holidays.
This investment is in addition to the £1 million already invested in tackling food insecurity in Scotland.
Commenting, SNP Education Spokesperson at Westminster Carol Monaghan MP said: “We know the impact that poverty has on pupil attainment in our schools and when families cannot afford to pay for their child’s school uniform as a result of UK Government cuts to social security, which is supposed to help the most needy, the SNP will take action for parents and pupils.
“The SNP Scottish Government have ensured that an estimated 120,000 families benefit from the minimum £100 school clothing grant and will review this over time to ensure that the amount available to families is in line with the cost of living.
“It is, of course, important that schools take a sensible approach when evaluating their uniform policy, ensuring affordability for parents and carers. Policies should reflect the ability to buy unbranded items and schools should ensure that there are no unnecessarily expensive garments that families and carers are forced into buying.
“The Tories at Westminster have spent years punishing families through horrific cuts to welfare and punitive sanctions that the SNP have long argued against.
“We know that families are being forced into poverty under the Tories, so it is more important than ever that action is taken to make sure pupils are not forced to stay at home because they cannot afford a school uniform.
“The SNP will continue to work to ensure that no child has to miss school due to the cost of uniform.
“Whilst we work on practical solutions to tackle this issue, the UK Government needs to wake up to reality and fix the horrific problems of its austerity agenda and the legacy their brutal cuts are having on our children and young people.”
Disclaimer: This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party.