Monday 18 January 2021 / 9:42 AM Kate Green

Conservative MPs warned not to extend “catalogue of chaos” on free school meals

Conservative MPs warned not to extend “catalogue of chaos” on free school meals

 

Labour is today, Monday, warning Conservative MPs not to extend the “catalogue of chaos” on free school meals and vote to guarantee that children will receive the full value of free school meals support, including over the school holidays.

 

Since the beginning of the pandemic the government has been plagued by a series of high-profile failures on providing free school meals to families struggling to put food on the table:

  • In April 2020, children went hungry as teachers were unable to order food vouchers from the government’s chosen supplier Edenred;
  • In June, Boris Johnson stated that: “we do not normally continue with free school meals over the summer holidays, and I am sure that is right”, but within days was forced to u-turn in the face of public pressure;
  • In October, Conservative MPs voted against providing free school meals to children during the October half-term, with councils and individual companies stepping up in place of government support,
  • In November, the government announced a second u-turn and provided support for children over the Christmas holiday.

 

Despite this catalogue of errors, last week Labour revealed that the images of inadequate food parcels circulating on social media were almost identical to the government’s recommended food parcel which cost less than £7, despite £15 being provided per child each week.

 

Today, Labour will call on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson not to repeat these failings by providing Free School Meals to the 1.4 million eligible children over February half-term and guaranteeing that children will receive the full value of free school meals support through establishing a system of cash payments which would enable parents to choose the food and supplies that are right for their children.

 

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

“Gavin Williamson has created a catalogue of chaos on free school meals. Time and time again he has let down the parents desperately trying to put food on the table and the children who have gone hungry through his incompetence.

 

“He must guarantee that children will get free school meals over the February half term and put trust in parents by give them the money for free school meals to ensure their children do not go hungry.

 

“Conservative MPs will have the opportunity to vote with Labour today to finally give families the support they need to get through this crisis.”