03 Sep Hunger
I love Autumn. There is nothing better than feeling cosy at home with a bit of wind and rain buffeting about outside, with the promise of new pencil cases and Cash’s name tapes spread across the kitchen table.
This week Britain’s ten million children return to school, and for the one million of them entitled to free school meals it brings the relief of at least one hot meal a day. These are the families that have muddled together through the last six weeks calling in favours and haphazard childcare in fear of loosing the low paid, zero-hours-contracted work they depend on. But the Government’s own figures show that more than four million children are living in poverty. That’s three million kids whose families have to find dinner-money or a packed lunch out of impossible budgets, or go without.
If only there was a way to feed these growing children, so they could get the most from the world-class education they have been provided.
What if we were to remove the VAT exemption on private school fees, and spend it on giving every primary school child a good lunch every day? At the moment the fees are VAT exempt because these schools are registered as charities. Those willing to blow an average £17,000 a year on private school fees (that is, the after-tax income of nearly half of the UK’s earners) might concede that this charitable donation might not be reaching the hungriest of mouths.
I can’t take credit for that idea, I read it here.
Meanwhile, here are some coincidentally relevant panels from the graphic novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, our work-in-progress. You can see how 100 years’ progress hasn’t dulled the pain of hunger, or even changed the arguments raised against solving it.