At last week’s meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council, the Ashfield Independents asked us to consider rolling out some of the same policies recently lauded by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
They asked us to implement Sadiq’s policy of Free School Meals for every child, which is currently costing £130 million this year alone.
I think most people will agree with me that 'Free' School Meals are not in fact, free.
They are funded by taxpayers, who because of this policy are now shelling out to feed the children of Lawyers, Politicians, Consultants and Professional Footballers across London.
I fully accept and understand the vital importance of supporting people who need help to get by.
Throughout my time as a Council leader, I've shifted the whole agenda towards 'prevention' and supporting those families and communities who most need help as a top priority.
We're working hard to ensure that taxpayer's money is targeted, so more of the funding goes exactly where there is an actual need, serving as a lifeline for some of the poorest families in our area.
The alternative, of expecting taxpayers to foot the bill to fund school meals for families that haven’t asked for it, is simply unaffordable and unnecessary to do so. It’s mad, and a total waste of millions of pounds of money! Sadiq’s plan diverts money away from targeted support for those in need, and spreads it thinly amongst everyone, whether they need it or not.
Not only that, it’s being effectively funded by the hated ULEZ scheme that charges people £12.50 a day just to go to work and provide for their families.
People well off enough will be able to make more choices around ULEZ, buy a new car, use public transport, or work from home.
Yet by contrast, many will not have this choice, and will be stuck paying a fine every day that directly funds Free School Meals for families earning over £100k a year!
The London Mayor is literally taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich!
It’s utterly mad! A single parent working as an electrician, supporting two kids who are already in receipt of Free School Meals, is now paying an extra £12.50 a day in ULEZ charges so that a player at Fulham FC on £30k a week can also get free meals at school for their kids.
Why does Sadiq not just scrap the hated ULEZ scheme, give people back their £12.50 a day and let them spend it on food for their kids?
The state is already too big, too expensive, and taxes are too high as it is.
The welfare state is a safety net and needs to be targeted at those who need it, supporting people who are really struggling and in preventative services to ensure people can remain independent.
I will never take funding away from key services that our County's most vulnerable people rely on or raise new taxes and charges on residents in order to give freebies to people who don’t need it, and haven’t asked for it.