Thank you for contacting me on the provision of Free School Meals during the summer holidays.
Firstly, I would like to put on record that I strongly welcome the announcement from the Government that it will extend the provision of Free School Meals to the 1.3 million most vulnerable children this summer. The Government is doing this through a new £120 million Covid Summer Food Fund.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the efforts of individuals like Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer, who galvanised the public on this issue. It was a clearly a cause very close to his heart and he ran a brilliant campaign that has now seen a tangible change in policy that will, rightly, support the most vulnerable children in this country.
The government has also made significant wider support and more targeted available for children and families.
On 10 June the Prime Minister confirmed an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19.
In addition, the government has introduced an uplift to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by around £1,000 a year for the next 12 months as part of an injection of over £6.5 billion by Government into the welfare system.
Additional support has been pledged by various departments across government with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announcing the provision of £16 million for food support through charities including FareShare and WRAP. DEFRA have also issued 2 million food packages to those who are shielding and have launched a £7 billion package of welfare support which will benefit over 4 million of the most vulnerable households.
The Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme arranges provision in a range of local settings, including school premises.
This ensures that thousands of disadvantaged children have access to enriching activities and nutritious healthy meals over the summer. This summer, the department will again run the HAF programme at a cost of £9 million, through which thousands of disadvantaged pupils will benefit from support.
I hope this helps to show the support the government is giving to the most vulnerable children and families during this unprecedented health and economic pandemic. I fully support all these schemes laid out and the provision for Free School Meals to children this summer.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important issue.
Sally-Ann Hart MP