Firstly, please let me be clear that the Government has not withdrawn funding for free school meals in the holidays – Free meals are not usually provided out of term time.
This said – I recognise that these are extraordinary times and this is why I wrote to Gavin Williamson the Secretary of State for Education in March of this year to urge the provision of extra money, to support children who would normally receive these meals, during the summer holidays this year. More recently I was glad that Mr. Rashford was able to use his celebrity profile to echo that call.
During this difficult time we must look at all options to support people who have been put in a precarious position because of the pandemic.
I am heartened by the number of people across Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale who have written to me about this issue and please rest assured that I will always put the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities first.
As you will have seen, the Government has identified an extra £120m to be spent on extending vouchers through the summer holidays which will support the most vulnerable children throughout the crisis, in addition to measures such as free childcare, tax free childcare and the pupil premium. This will sit alongside an additional £63m given to local authorities to provide targeted support for those with the greatest need.
I will continue to monitor the Government’s response to the crisis to ensure that future measures are focused on helping those most in need and I will continue to speak up for the concerns of my constituents at Westminster.