Parents in West Dunbartonshire have ran up £14,500 of debt from unpaid school meals.

The figure was obtained through a Freedom of Information request which revealed a staggering £1.1million is owed across the whole of Scotland.

Every child at a council-run school in the country is entitled to free meals in the first three years of education.

Pupils continue to get lunches provided if their parents or carers receive certain benefits or tax credits.

But everyone else has to pay.

The Scottish Green Party received details after submitting requests for information from all 32 local authorities.

Ross Greer MSP, whose remit covers West Dunbartonshire, said: “We know that means-tested free school meals miss out far too many families who need them. The reality is that much of this £1.1 million is never going to be paid back, because families simply cannot afford it.

“If it is serious about closing the attainment gap between our richest and poorest pupils, the Scottish Government should follow the example of Finland by providing all school-age children with access to a free, nutritious breakfast and lunch, including during school holidays. The first step towards that would be having councils writing off this frankly astonishing and growing debt.”

West Dunbartonshire is in the process of rolling-out a cashless payments system which would allow parents to pay in advance for school meals online.

No pupils will go hungry at lunchtime however, as they are still provided with food, even if they are already in debt, or don't have the means to pay.

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: "West Dunbartonshire Council has invested significantly in recent years to increase the number of children and young people eligible for free school meals beyond national requirements. As a result, 80 per cent of school meals received by pupils in primary schools and 50 per cent received in secondary schools are provided free of charge.

"We have recently introduced the ParentPay system which enables parents and carers to pay for school meals online, making the process easier and more convenient.

"No child ever goes without a meal, and parents are offered support to manage any outstanding debt. "