25th Nov, 2020

Council will continue to support children throughout the holidays who rely on free school meals

Laura Kearns 29th Oct, 2020

CHILDREN who rely on free school meals will not go hungry over the holidays.

Warwickshire County Council will continue to support vulnerable residents despite a parliamentary vote against extending free school meals over the holidays.

Local MPs who voted against the campaign – which was spearheaded by footballer Marcus Rashford – include Rugby MP Mark Pawsey, Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi and Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright. Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western voted for providing meals.

Following the vote, Warwickshire Labour Group leader Helen Adkins, with the backing of local Labour leaders, wrote to the council calling on it to ensure children would not go hungry over the holidays.

Her calls were echoed by MP Matt Western.

He said: “I voted in parliament to extend free school meals, which would have guaranteed children were, at the very least, fed during these difficult months – but the government opposed it.

“If the government refuses to support the most vulnerable children in our country, it is only right we act locally. Many other local authorities are rightly doing just that.”

MP Jeremy Wright said while he supports free school meals during term time he did not back the vote as it did not specify it was just for those in financial need but also children in reception and years one and two. He believed this could lead to more ‘well-off’ families claiming support.

He also says it would put extra pressure on the education system and support is in place through the likes of the welfare system.

Mr Wright added: “We should all try to recognise compassionate people can disagree on the best way to achieve the objectives they share.”

But support will be offered through the county council’s local welfare scheme – which has provided more than £450,000 to families during the pandemic.

The scheme has been in place for many years and will see vulnerable children who rely on free school meals continue to receive support through all holidays.

Along with financial support to provide food for children, those with siblings aged two or above will also be entitled to help.

Council leader Izzi Seccombe said: “We do not want people in Warwickshire feeling anxious and we do not want children going hungry over school holidays. Our local welfare scheme is there to support families and children, so this is what we will do.

“Our Warwickshire communities are really important to us and we are committed to supporting them.”

The scheme helps the most vulnerable residents at times of unavoidable crisis by providing basic and essential help.

Those needing support can call 0800 4081448 or 01926 359182 to speak to the council.

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