Statement on Free School Meals
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Some constituents have asked me to explain the Labour motion yesterday on free school meals during non-school time.
It is important to note at the outset that these motions are not binding – they do not change the law and do not compel the Government to do anything at all. The Labour Party regularly tables scaremongering motions in order to score political points, obtain headlines and attack the Government. Yesterday was no exception.
To be clear, this Government is committed to helping families and children who are struggling during this health crisis and has put in place unprecedented measures to help people.
Earlier this year, I supported the provision of free school meals at home when schools were closed and to temporarily extending this to cover the holiday period. This was an unprecedented measure to help families cope until schools reopened.
Now that schools are open, we need a different approach to help families during school holidays. That's why Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit has been increased by £1,000 to help families this year. This extra £9 billion injection into our welfare system provides support all year round.
This is on top of the Government's multi-billion pound furlough and self-employed income support schemes which have protected millions of people's of jobs and wages.
The Government has also provided £63 million for councils to provide emergency assistance to families with food, essentials and meals.
At the time of writing, the Government has provided – over a 6-month period – more than £200 billion of support to people and businesses across the country. This is five times Britain's annual defence budget and this level of support is entirely unprecedented in the peacetime history of this country.
It is worth noting Labour's hypocrisy on this issue. When they were in Government, they refused calls to extend free school meals into the summer holidays.
And it was this Conservative Government which extended the number of children eligible for free school meals compared to Labour's old system.
The fact is that under this Government many new measures have been introduced to support families and children. That's why I voted against Labour's meaningless, point-scoring and frankly hypocritical motion yesterday.
No Conservative MP has voted against “feeding starving kids” in fact we’ve been delivering new multi-billion pound measures to support struggling families. Injecting £9 billion into the welfare system is a targeted way of helping struggling families pay for children’s meals during school holidays.