The Government's plans free school meals for children under eight are under fire today as sceptics raise their concerns over the country's inability to afford the proposed £1 billion giveaway.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the £600 million school meals scheme under a deal with the Conservatives to allow them to press ahead with a tax break for married couples that is widely expected to cost around £500 million.
A Treasury spokesman said any plans for more spending or cuts "would be taken forward in the Autumn Statement".
Critics have attacked the scheme as a "conference gimmick" and a bad use of public money. There will be concerns over how the country can afford the giveaway when Britain's economic recovery is in its infancy.
The Taxpayers' Alliance described it as a "conference gimmick" while the Institute of Economic Affairs said it was "an enormously bad use of public money".
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