IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Islington faces huge cuts, but must keep free school meals

27 July, 2018

• ISLINGTON Labour is deeply committed to tackling inequality in the borough, including by helping residents with the cost of living. Period poverty is therefore something that the council has been working to resolve for some time.

On International Women’s Day we launched our Tricky Period Scheme, stocking our libraries with free sanitary products. We have appointed Coun­cillor Kadeema Wood­byrne as Islington’s women and girls champion to ensure women’s and girls’ voices are heard.

We are keen to look at expanding the Tricky Period Scheme and will be talking to the private sector and others to bring it into schools. The council remains committed to ensuring every woman and girl who needs sanitary products has easy access to them in a dignified setting.

Period poverty is one symptom of the inequalities still facing women and girls, so it is vital we tackle these inequalities in their entirety.

By 2020, the Tory government will have cut core central government funding to Islington Council by 70 per cent in a decade.

Despite these massive cuts, I’m proud that we have protected essential services, kept our refuges and children’s centres open and by funding targeted employment services helped longer-term unemployed women back into work.

Huge government cuts mean initiatives requiring funding must be thought through, so they succeed in the long-term. However, I don’t believe the answer is to scrap universal free school meals to pay for other services.

There is a huge bureaucracy involved with introducing means-tested programmes, which can cost more than universal provision. Universal free school meals also remove the stigma for children and have significant health and social benefits.

In Islington, where disadvantage and extreme wealth live side by side, I don’t believe it would be fair or right to divide children at lunchtime.

This council administration is on the side of women and girls. We are dedicated to tackling the inequalities they face to make Islington a fairer place for all.

CLLR KAYA COMER-SCHWARTZ
Labour executive member for community development

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