asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether rents and mortgage payments, respectively, are allowable deductions in assessing the entitlement on income grounds of parents for the provision of free school meals for children.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why children of mortgage holders in England and Wales can qualify for the receipt of free school meals in England and Wales; and why schoolchildren in Scotland, where parents or parent have a mortgage cannot have that mortgage taken into account in the decision as to whether they qualify for free school meals.
Under the present rules for determining net income for free school meals purposes in Scotland rent is deductible but mortgage payments are not. In England and Wales mortgage payments are deductible. The reasons for this difference are historical and stem from the advice of a joint working party of the Scottish Education Department and local authorities in 1967 that the rules should be the same as those used for general social security purposes. The recent upward extension of entitlement to free school meals has given a new significance to the difference and discussions are about to take place with the education authorities about appropriate amendment of the rules.