ASHTON and Failsworth MP Angela Rayner is urging the government to save almost 18,000 children across Oldham and Tameside from losing vital free school meals support over the holidays ahead of tomorrow’s crunch vote.
In Oldham, 9,544 of 46,283 pupils are eligible for free school meals and in Tameside, the figure is 8,143 out of 37,157. Children in these areas have been living under enhanced Covid restrictions since July.
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.Angela, Labour’s Deputy Leader, 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.
Tomorrow (weds), Labour MP’s will force a vote in the House of Commons on the issue of free school meals. The motion simply calls for the provision of free school meals to be extended over each school holiday from October half term to Easter 2021.
Without the support of Conservative backbenchers, support will be withdrawn ahead of next week’s half term.
Angela, who benefitted from free school meals as a child, 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“Millions of families up and down the country are facing a bleak winter of real hardship as the furlough scheme is withdrawn and further restrictions are put in place without proper support for businesses, jobs and livelihoods.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 But if Tory MPs don’t do the right thing today this vital support will be withdrawn next week and over 1.4 million children across our country will go hungry.”