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Greens MSP Ariane Burgess welcomes £1.5m school meal debt write-off

By Niall Harkiss

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Scottish Greens MSP Ariane Burgess has hailed the announcement that the Scottish Government will write-off school meal debt as "a huge relief" for families in the Highlands.

Green MSP for Highlands and Islands Ariane Burgess.
Green MSP for Highlands and Islands Ariane Burgess.

Laying out the Scottish Government's tax and spending plans for 2024-25, Deputy First Minister and finance secretary Shona Robison confirmed to MSPs on Tuesday that £1.5 million would be handed to councils to wipe debt accrued by pupils on school meals.


Highland MSP Ariane Burgess said the write-off would remove “a worry hanging over families up and down the country who are struggling to make ends meet”.

Greens MSPs first proposed the write-off after finding that over £1 million was owed by families across Scotland.

A Freedom of Information request by the party showed that at the end of 2021, families in the Highlands were £68,872 in debt for school meals.

Ms Burgess said: “This is really welcome news for families in the Highlands and I am proud that we have delivered it with Scottish Greens in government.

“We know that young people struggle in school if they’re hungry or stressed by their family being chased for money they cannot afford to pay.

“Not only has chasing this debt caused anxiety and embarrassment for students and their families, I know that school staff hate being put in the position of asking pupils for money they know the family does not have.

“We are proud that 90,000 children in Scotland are being lifted out of poverty this year by Scottish Government policies like the £25 per week Scottish Child Payment, free bus travel for young people and an expanding programme of free school meals, all funded by the most progressive taxation system anywhere in the UK.

“In stark contrast to what we see at Westminster, these are the actions of a government committed to building a fairer Scotland.”

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