Tuesday 20 October 2020 / 10:30 PM Angela Rayner / Kate Green / Tulip Siddiq / Youth

Nearly a million children under enhanced restrictions to lose free school meals support over the holidays

Nearly a million children living in areas that are subject to Tier 2 and Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions are set to lose access to free school meals over the holidays, according to new analysis by the House of Commons Library.

The Library analysis, commissioned by Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green found that there are around 900,000 children living in areas subject to enhanced restrictions. The new figures show that 61% of the over 1.4 million children eligible for FSM are living in areas subject to the increased restrictions.

This will leave thousands of families facing a “double whammy” as the October half term approaches – with incomes and jobs at risk while vital support for children is removed, as the Prime Minister has refused to extend the provision of free school meals over the holidays.

Labour has warned that parents will be at significant risk from the chancellor’s “sink-or-swim” economic measures, as they were almost twice as likely to be furloughed as other working people, creating the serious risk of a cliff-edge for family incomes.

Today (Wednesday 21 October) Labour will force a vote in the House of Commons on the issue of free school meals. Labour’s motion simply calls for the provision of free school meals to be extended over each school holiday from October half term to Easter 2021. But without the support of Conservative backbenchers, support will be withdrawn ahead of next week’s half term.

Yesterday, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister Tulip Siddiq MP wrote to Conservative backbenchers, urging them to defy Boris Johnson and support the proposals.

Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“This vote is about our values as a country and whether the government, in the middle of this crisis, is happy to let our children go hungry.

“Millions of families up and down the country are facing a bleak winter of real hardship as the furlough scheme is withdrawn and further restrictions are put in place without proper support for businesses, jobs and livelihoods.

“It is a moral outrage that the government will happily spend over £6,000 a day on consultants and line the pockets of Serco shareholders in return for a Test and Trace system that has collapsed whilst leaving almost a million children in areas subject to Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions to go hungry.

“No child in our country should be waking up hungry and having to face the day worrying where food might be coming from. But if Tory MPs don’t do the right thing today this vital support will be withdrawn next week and over 1.4 million children across our country will go hungry.”