NORTH Ayrshire Labour and SNP have clashed over cuts to the school 'holiday meal voucher' programme.

Prior to the October holidays, the council warned there would be no "wrap, run and fun" activity programme over both the October and festive breaks.

This was to be replaced by a voucher scheme - with no official confirmation beforehand of how much would be provided per eligible child.

The Labour group then explained that families on the mainland would receive £10 per child per week - a total of half the amount provided under the Labour administration during the Covid pandemic, when activities were not an option.

The group heavily criticised the current administration for this decision, in particular it's timing, coming during an ongoing cost of living crisis.

But the SNP have since responded to Labour's complaints, stating that funds have been directed to those in need through other methods - which is what the families involved really want.

Speaking after the figures came to light, Labour councillor Nairn McDonald said: “We know that parents are facing huge challenges making ends meet this winter and a choice of being able to heat your home or feed your family is becoming a reality for more and more families.

"It is unacceptable that during this cost of living crisis the SNP administration in North Ayrshire has chosen to cut the voucher scheme in half.

“With it being confirmed there will be no activity programmes over the October or festive holidays, the value of the vouchers will literally be a lifeline for many families. That’s why Labour will seek to reverse this SNP cut.

“If council passes our motion the vouchers will be raised back to £20 per week for the festive period and families will receive retrospective support to compensate for the cut thats been imposed on them this October holiday.”

However the ruling SNP group sought to explain that there was more to the decision than meets the eye.

Deputy leader Shaun Macaulay said: "As part of North Ayrshire SNP administration's £4million cost crisis response we agreed to top up the child bridging payment by £100 per eligible child. We also extended this to low-income families of children of pre school age, supporting over 5700 children (3,300 families).

"As well as the school meal voucher, this additional £100 was paid in time for summer and October holidays.

"Our cash-first approach was exactly what families and anti-poverty charities told us works best for people providing dignity and flexibility.

"The December bridging payment has been doubled by the Scot Gov and with our top up, this will be worth £360 per eligible child paid in time for Christmas.

"I suggest Labour for once listen to what families are saying works best for them, like our SNP administration are doing, instead of once again demanding something worth substantially less than what is being offered already.”