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Education Lead: It’s time Government stepped up on Free School Meals

Statement from Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services.

Published: Tuesday, 27th October 2020

Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services,

Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services, said: 

“It was incredibly disappointing that the Government chose not to support children and young people who may be going hungry this half-term. We have stepped in and will be funding the provision of free school meals for children over this half-term. We made this decision because we recognise how challenging these times are for some of our most economically-disadvantaged families and children, with loss of income and a volatile jobs market placing pressure on parents.

“No child should go hungry and this is why we are extending the provision of meals into the holiday period.

“Although current council services will not be impacted or diminished to support the resourcing of free school meals, the Government’s decision not to directly fund this will obviously put further pressure on Councils’ budgets. Prudent financial management is one of the key strengths of Hounslow Council, but the ability of a local authority to pay should not determine whether children go hungry during a school holiday during a global pandemic. It is time the Government stepped up and fulfilled their responsibility to the nation’s most vulnerable young people.

“All parents/carers who are entitled to Free School Meals will retrospectively receive their vouchers after half term. Some families who needed vouchers immediately have now been given their vouchers.

“Some of our schools are opting to provide packed lunches themselves or are providing their own vouchers, and in this situation the school in question will advise participants on how to obtain the packed lunches or vouchers.

“I am pleased Hounslow Council has been able to step in to fund the provision of free school meals to try to ensure that no children in Hounslow will be going hungry. We have also committed to helping make sure no child goes without food over Christmas.

"If you are not eligible for Free School Meals there are other supports available – click here for more information."

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