Labour will tomorrow unveil plans to ensure every primary school child in England has access to fully funded breakfast clubs under a government led by Sir Keir Starmer.
Announcing the scheme on the final day of the party’s conference in Liverpool, Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, will say the policy will be paid for by reinstating the highest rate of income tax, which the chancellor scrapped in his tax-cutting mini-budget on Friday.
Labour has already said that half of the money saved by bringing back the 45% rate of income tax on earnings above £150,000 will be used to train more district nurses, health visitors and midwives.
The party says the breakfast plan will cost £365m a year, which includes funding to be sent to the devolved administrations.
Only schools in disadvantaged areas are eligible for the programme at present.
The scheme gets a 75% subsidy from the government.
‘Modern childcare system’
Ms Phillipson is expected to tell Labour delegates that the major extension of the scheme would be “the first step on the road to a modern childcare system”.
She will tell the main conference hall on Wednesday: “We need a fresh vision of that education. One that looks to the future, not the past.
“Labour will build a modern childcare system. One that supports families from the end of parental leave through to the end of primary school.
“As the first step on that road, we will introduce breakfast clubs for every primary school child in England, driving up standards in maths, reading, and writing, and giving mums and dads choices.”
Ms Phillipson is also expected to talk about ending tax breaks for private schools to widen access to the arts and build a modern careers advice and work experience system.
One child-poverty charity welcomed the breakfast proposal, but urged Labour to go further.
Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “With four million children already in poverty and millions of parents struggling to stay afloat, now is the time to make this happen for families.
“We hope there is more to come – universal before and after-school activities for kids of all ages would make a crucial difference.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Hunger is a real concern for school staff who regularly see children arriving in the morning without having eaten, and therefore not ready to learn.
“A positive start to the day and a nutritious breakfast before school for those who need it could make a real difference. If properly funded and resourced this entitlement is something school leaders would support.”
A government spokeswoman said: “We have expanded access to free school meals more than any other government in recent decades, which currently reach 1.9 million children.
“We are also investing up to £24m in our national school breakfast programme, which provides free breakfasts to children in schools in disadvantaged areas.”
At Labour’s party conference on Tuesday, Sir Keir announced that a Labour government will create Great British Energy, a new, publicly owned company that will generate renewable sources “to cut bills, create jobs and deliver energy independence”.
The role of GB Energy will be to provide additional capacity alongside the private sector, to establish the UK as a clean energy superpower and guarantee long term energy security, the Labour leader said.
In another policy announcement, Sir Keir said Labour wants to increase homeownership and will set a target of 70%, offering a new mortgage guarantee for first-time buyers to help more people get on to the housing ladder.