15th September 2023
In the week that has seen all Primary school children benefit from free school meals thanks to the Mayor of London, Kingston and Surbiton Labour has selected a motion calling for universal free school meals to send to the party’s annual conference.
Free school meals for all will see off toxic lunch time social divisions, acting as an equaliser. It will pick up those who fall through the gaps by not meeting the tough criteria, as in-work poverty rises, and ever-increasing living costs.
Kezia Coleman, Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party Chair said: “The number of UK children facing food poverty has doubled in the last year, hitting 4 million. This is a disgrace, and the government should be ashamed. Camden Council already offer free school meals for all primary school children. Kingston should as well. Over 5700 children in Kingston are impacted by food poverty.
In the May 2022 local elections, Kingston Labour pledged to tackle child poverty in our manifesto.
We opened up our office space last winter as a free community café, with child friendly activities.
Local party members have delivered emergency food parcels to those in need, and many of our amazing members support and even run local schemes that help families access food.
But we all agree we want to see more prevention. Free school meals will be a lifeline for many, but it’s just the start of what’s needed. The last Labour Government lifted nearly a million children out of poverty. We can do it again.”
Two other additional motions were passed on the NHS and migrant rights. It was a tough choice for our members select one to submit. We look forward to hearing the motions on these areas at this year’s conference.
You can read all the motions below:
Free School Meals
Proposer: Rebecca Way
Conference notes that free school meals are a way of ensuring that all children receive a nutritious, hot meal every day. Nutritious food at school helps children to focus on their learning and supports their education and wellbeing.
Conference notes that means testing leaves many struggling families ineligible for Free School Meals, and that the low eligibility threshold means that too many children in need due to the cost of living crisis, and years of Conservative neglect are missing out. Children are means-tested by household, regardless of the number of children in the family, and a child is only eligible if their household receives £7,400 per year or less.
All children receive their school meals for free until the end of year 2. After that, in England, only children who meet the criteria qualify.
Conference notes that the Welsh and Scottish governments are implementing free school meals for all primary school pupils. Some Labour local authorities have introduced free school meals schemes. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a £130m emergency scheme to introduce universal free school meals in London primary schools for one year.
This conference notes that the Conservative government has consistently refused to adopt a universal free school meals scheme for all primary school children.
Conference resolves that the next Labour Government must deliver universal free school meals for all primary school children, with a view to expanding the offer to secondary school pupils.
Proposer: Julie Raey
The Labour Party created the NHS because the ideal was good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth, paid for by fair and redistributive taxation. The ever-expanding introduction of the private sector in the NHS, from peripheral services initially, gradually expanding to direct healthcare, has undermined the original concept and led to hospital being mired in debt through PFIs and other private contracts, and NHS staff being contracted out with worse terms and conditions.
This conference commits any future Labour Government to bring essential NHS services, including cleaning, portering, etc, back to direct NHS control, and to invest in illness prevention strategies through Government funded Health Hubs which would provide screening services as well as community facilities for minor ailments, and where necessary step-down beds in community hospitals.
This conference believes Technology and Information Systems should be harmonised across the whole service with a properly funded programme to assist this.
Boards of Health Providers should be made up of, and reflect the communities they serve, along with health professionals and other professions that are necessarily required. This means equal numbers of local representatives as professional members.
One essential part of providing a service that can transform lives, is the oversight when things go wrong, a Labour Government would set up meaningful, independent, local health watchdogs with powers to investigate when changes were proposed, or things went wrong.
“It [the NHS] will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.”
Migrant solidarity: towards a humane, internationalist and socialist immigration policy
Proposer: Praveen Kolluguri
The government’s inhumane immigration policy is illustrated by its betrayal of Afghan refugees, Windrush scandal victims, and everyone crossing the Channel; its legislative assault on the right to seek asylum; and the brutal Rwandan deportation scheme.
Restricting migrant workers’ rights and making them precarious, undermines all workers’ power to push back against exploitation together.
Conference applauds PCS trade unionists, whose strike threats and legal action defeated maritime “pushback” plans.
Labour must build solidarity and campaign for migrants’ rights and an antiracist, internationalist alternative.
Labour will commit in power, and campaign in opposition and at the grassroots, to:
- repeal the Nationality and Borders Act, Illegal Migration Bill and all anti-migrant legislation;
- reject immigration systems based on numerical caps, minimum income/wealth requirements, or utility to employers;
- guarantee safe, legal routes for asylum seekers, day-one rights to work, education and social security, and expand family reunion rights;
- abolish “no recourse to public funds”, NHS charges & restrictions, and all Hostile Environment policies;
- replace Settled Status with an automatic Right to Stay;
- introduce a simple process for all UK residents to gain permanent residency;
- grant all UK residents equal voting rights;
- close all detention centres; end all immigration raids, detention, and deportations, including racist “double sentencing”;
- support workers refusing to implement deportations, Hostile Environment measures and pushbacks;
- level up domestic workers’ rights to equal other workers;
- re-enter Europe’s free movement area, and pursue free movement agreements with other countries, including in all future trade deals, with the goal of equal free movement for all.