This evening (21/10/2020), the Conservative party will vote against a motion in the House of Commons that would guarantee that all children in receipt of free school meals will continue to receive them during the upcoming school holidays.
Commenting on the issue, James MacCleary, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Lewes said, “The Tories are voting down a motion that would support over one million children who receive free school meals. Their excuse is to hide behind their policy of supporting only 50,000 children, which is less than 5% of children in desperate need. The government has found billions to fund other projects but will not find the relatively small amount to fund this.
“It is highly divisive at a time when families are under strain and children particularly are suffering and losing out on their education because of the Government’s mishandling of Coronavirus. Families who are already having a tough time are having to deal with finding extra money to feed their families at a time of unique hardship.
“In 2019 in East Sussex, 10,825 children were receiving free school meals. If these figures haven’t increased, this means that Tory MPs across our county including our local MP and government whip, Maria Caulfield, will vote to leave nearly 10,000 children in East Sussex to go hungry. As a parent of a primary school child, I cannot imagine what it feels like to be in such desperate need and deemed to be unworthy of support as if my family and their needs don’t matter.
“I would like to ask Maria Caulfield how she can justify pulling the rug from under so many working families and their children? As a government whip, she will be there to drive through the government’s opposition to this motion, ensuring that thousands of children across our county will go hungry this autumn. The Liberal Democrats have been long term campaigners for free school meals and fully support this motion. We have always believed in a country like the UK, no child should be going hungry. This is why free school meals has been one of our flagship policies and one of the achievements that we were most proud of in Government.”
Data on numbers of children in receipt of free school meals can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/free-school-meals-supplementary-grant-2019-to-2020