Thursday 14 January 2021 / 10:30 PM Jonathan Reynolds / Kate Green

Government should trust families and enable cash payments for free school meals

Labour is calling on the government to trust families and enable a system of cash payments for free school meals while schools are closed to most pupils, ending the scandal of inadequate food parcels and giving families choice over how to receive support.

Yesterday, Labour revealed that the government’s suggested weekly food parcel is almost identical to the images of food parcels circulating on social media, which the Prime Minister said were “an insult to the families receiving them.”

The government’s guidance recommends a food parcel for children including less than £7 worth of food, despite funding for free school meals being £15 per child each week. Enabling families to receive the money directly, as an alternative to vouchers and parcels, would ensure they get the full value of this support and ensure parents can choose the food and supplies that are right for their children.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green has called on the government to live up to its rhetoric and take action to ensure the full value of free school meals support is going direct to families.

Labour is further calling for the government to cancel its plans to cut the £20 uplift to universal credit which will put further pressure on household finances, risking more children going hungry.

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

“Ministers are claiming to be disgusted by the images of woefully inadequate food parcels, while blaming individual companies and proposing no long-term solution.

“The government should put its trust in parents by give them the money for free school meals to ensure their children are not going hungry.”

Jonathan Reynolds, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said:

“Children going hungry while schools are closed to most children, has been yet another failing of a Government that keeps letting families down. Our social security system should be a safety net but it has far too many holes in it. 

 

“Giving cash directly to families would support parents in making the best choices on how to look after their children during an unprecedented crisis.”