William Eichler 19 October 2020

Labour calls for free school meals to be provided during holidays

Labour has thrown its weight behind a petition urging the Government to extend the provision of free school meals during holidays by threatening to force a vote in the Commons.

Over a quarter of a million people have signed the footballer Marcus Rashford’s petition which calls on the Government to provide meals and activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger. It also calls for an expansion of the Healthy Start scheme.

The shadow education secretary Kate Green insisted that the chancellor’s plans for supporting families risks leaving over a million children hungry during the school holidays.

There are more than 1.44 million children who are eligible for free school meals, growing up in families in receipt of legacy benefits, or who receive Universal Credit.

Labour argues that by extending free school meals to school holidays until Spring would see the equivalent of £15 in additional support go to the families of over 1.4 million children in every week of the school holidays, including October half term and Christmas.

‘Millions of families face the prospect of losing their livelihoods because the Government has lost control of the virus,’ said Ms Green.

‘It’s sink-or-swim plans for support could leave more than one million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays.

‘Now is the time to act. Labour will not stand by and let families be the victims of the Government’s incompetence. If Boris Johnson doesn’t change course, we will force a vote this week and give his backbenchers the change to do the right thing.’

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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