Free School Meals and The Shifting Of Responsibility.

Credit: The Free School Plan

By Oliver James Pike

I never thought of myself as an evil person. However, I have recently discovered (having been told by various outraged parties) that I apparently want children to starve. Of course, who would want such a thing? The accusation made against any person concerned about ill-judged policies, such as the labour proposed free school meals during the holidays, is that we are heatless beasts, irredeemable sociopaths and Dickensian caricatures, denying weeping orphans their gruel.

The truth is that we see the whole idea as a pointless and expensive exercise in posturing and virtue signaling. Food (as anyone who has entered a supermarket will know) is incredibly cheap. Bags of vegetables sell for 50p, eggs and milk are about the cheapest thing you can buy and the building blocks of a sandwich come to a total of around £1.70. The vast majority of kids are not in a position where their cupboards are barren and their fridges empty. Instead, most families provide for their children for a small sum (as is their moral duty). Furthermore, the government already pays out child benefit payments which do not have to be paid back by a household earning under £50,000 and now universal credit payments. Why is this money not enough to cover the children's food? Of course, some slip through the net. However, we already have social services and food banks to ensure everyone's basic needs are met. The provision of free meals may look nice and friendly but in reality, it does little to address the problem and the money would be better places teaching people how to budget and directing funding to social services to actually help children who by definition are being abused and neglected or are so stricken by poverty or hardship that they require assistance.

These policies also breed further reliance on the state. We have already seen in Scotland the government go from providing healthcare and free university tuition to baby boxes, free tampons, free prescriptions and complementary I pads in schools. The logic behind all these free services from the state is that they are a basic need or "human right" (as many advocates of the policies call them) and therefore have to be provided for free lest the government infringe these fundamental rights. Of course, nowhere in the ECHR or the UNCHR is a state required to provide free school meals or free tuition. Instead, the state is tasked with ensuring systems are in place to ensure everyone has a basic standard of life. How it goes about this is up to that government and in this case, a blanket free meal policy would be the wrong approach for the reasons mentioned above.

If everything required for a basic standard of life (defined by dignity, opportunity and justice) was provided for by the state then the treasury would have no money left. Citizens however would have free toothpaste, toilet roll, soap, nail clippers, clothes, shoes, homes, and likely taxpayer-funded pornography based on the loose definition of human rights tossed around whenever an unpopular policy is implemented. The logic is the exact same. These products are required for basic health and hygiene and cost households a sizeable amount (more than food). The end result will be a move towards total dependence on the state. We will slowly get used to more and more handouts and eventually, our complaints will become pettier and pettier until we are picketing parliament for free Tinder Gold. This is the future that awaits a country willing to buy into this destructive habit of raising taxes and burning it on frivolities. Instead of continuing our march into the arms of the big state, we should just bite the bullet, take the hit and spend that £2.50 on lunch.