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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 19:07 GMT 20:07 UK
Action on school meals
Children having school meal
A loophole which could mean thousands of children missing out on free school meals is to be closed by emergency legislation.

Scottish National Party parliament spokeswoman Fiona Hyslop claimed changes to the tax and benefit system would have left 6,500 children from low-income backgrounds without free meals.

She said the emergency legislation was proof that the Scottish Parliament should have power over tax and social security policy.

Scottish Executive ministers will introduce measure to close the loophole next week.

Low-income families

At present, children whose families receive income support, or an income-based jobseeker's allowance, are entitled to free meals, Ms Hyslop said.

But under new Westminster legislation that would be replaced by a working tax credit, or child credit, and about 6,500 children would lose the free meal entitlement, she said.

"Holyrood's lack of power has left thousands of children from low-income families facing the prospect of losing their right to free school meals," she said.

"Now, emergency legislation is having to be introduced to correct a mistake that would never have happened if we had control of our own tax and social security system."

An executive spokeswoman said: "This is a technical bill which seeks to close the loophole created by changes to the benefits system.

"It will ensure that no child who is entitled to free school meals will miss out."

Fresh bid for free school meals
14 May 03  |  Scotland
School meal changes bear fruit
19 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Free school meals move fails
20 Jun 02  |  Scotland

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