West Dunbartonshire council tax rises as free school meals extended

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a child being served a canteen dinnerImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Children up to primary seven won't have to pay for school meals in future in West Dunbartonshire

Council tax will rise by 4.84% in West Dunbartonshire, but the authority said it would help fund a widened free school meal scheme.

Nearly one million pounds will be used to make school dinners free for all primary age children.

The free meals will be phased in over a two-year period.

Other budget plans include £8m for road and pavement improvements, £1.85m to boost employment and £250,000 to fund more learning assistants.

The council said a survey last year found roads and education were local residents' top priorities.

It said the investment in school meals would "save local families hundreds of pounds a year".

Since January 2015, free school meals have been offered to children up to primary three in all state schools in the country as part of Scottish government policy.

'No cuts budget'

Ian Dickson, convener of corporate services said: "For the second year, we have adopted a no cuts budget in West Dunbartonshire, investing in key areas and supporting our residents."

"Our residents told us through the budget survey that they wanted education to be prioritised," he added.

"We have responded to that with a commitment to provide free school meals in all of our primary schools, an increase in funding for extra learning assistants, and a pledge to continue to invest in our schools".

The council, which serves 89,000 residents, announced rent will increase by 1.9%.

It follows a consultation with tenants and will be the third year in a row rent rise is below inflation.

A decision to increase rents at gypsy traveller sites by 1.9% was also approved.