Jack Abbot, Labour’s opposition spokesperson for children’s services, education and skills on Suffolk County Council, has called on Tory MPs to ensure the most disadvantaged children continue to receive free school meals during school holidays.
In a letter to Suffolk’s seven Tory MPs Cllr Abbott asked them to vote to extend the government’s free school meals scheme so that the 15,000 children in Suffolk who currently receive free school meals would continue to receive support during school holidays until at least Easter 2021.
The economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic means many more families across Suffolk are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly 40,000 children in the county are already living in poverty.
“This pandemic has devastated the lives and livelihoods of so many people. Families have lost all or some of their income. Businesses which have taken years of hard-work to build up have had to close overnight. The tragic result of this will be more children living in poverty and more children not having enough to eat. This is true irrespective of whether it is term time or during the school holidays.”
The number of children receiving free school meals in Suffolk has risen by 15% since March. The amount of food handed out by foodbanks in Suffolk this year has more than trebled, increasing by 238%.
UPDATE 20:00 21/10/2020: In a sickening display of contempt for the most disadvantaged families in our communities, Tory MPs today voted against extending the free school meals scheme to cover school holidays.
Those MPs voting against the Opposition amendment included Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey who wound up the debate for the government. Her callousness will see thousands of children across Suffolk and in her own constituency going hungry this Christmas.
The Labour Party will continue to stand up for everyone suffering at the hands of this heartless, barbaric government.
Here’s the full list of Suffolk MPs who voted not to extend the free school meals scheme:
- Therese Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)
- Tom Hunt (Ipswich)
- Peter Aldous (Waveney)
- James Cartlidge (South Suffolk)
- Matt Hancock (West Suffolk)
- Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds)
No vote recorded:
- Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich)