By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter
School staff are feeding children as they are “not able to afford breakfast,” a councillor has said.
The point was made during a discussion on the Mayor of London’s plan to roll out free school meals to all primary schools in the capital.
At a full Bromley council meeting on Monday, Conservative councillor Kate Lymer was asked by the Labour Group to make a statement on the Mayor of London’s announcement that primary school children in London will receive free school meals for the 2023/24 academic year.
In her statement, the portfolio holder for children and education said that instead of funding meals for children, the mayor should “not take as much money” from people in the first place.
In January, the Mayor of London announced he would be raising the council tax bill for average Londoners by nearly £40.
Cllr Lymer said the meals were being funded by tax from hard-working Londoners and businesses, instead of the mayor himself.
She said at the meeting: “He is trying to buy people’s votes with freebies.
“However, the problem is that while he is giving with one hand, he will be taking much, much more away with the other.”
Labour Councillor Chris Price said at the meeting that he was stunned by the comments of the portfolio holder.
He asked Cllr Lymer: “Will you be reading that same statement to the headteachers when you meet with them, who have got staff who are feeding their children because they are not able to afford breakfast and they are not entitled to free school meals?”
Cllr Lymer said her statement will be on public record for anyone who wished to see it.
The portfolio holder said she was “flabbergasted” that the Labour Group was celebrating the mayor’s scheme, and said it could disrupt schools already on tight budgets.
The Mayor of London announced the scheme to give every London primary school pupil free meals for the 2023/24 academic year on February 20.
The mayor said in a statement: “The cost-of-living crisis means families and children across our city are in desperate need of additional support.
“I have repeatedly urged the government to provide free school meals to help already stretched families, but they have simply failed to act.”
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