COUNTY council chiefs have become the latest Tory-led administration to defy the Government’s decision not to provide free school meals during half-term.
County Hall chiefs confirmed they would work with councils across Worcestershire to make sure vulnerable children had access to a meal every day during the half term holidays.
The move puts the Conservative run administration at odds with the Government which rejected Labour’s calls for free school meals to be provided during half-term and until Easter next year.
Worcester’s MP Robin Walker wa among the 321 Conservative MPs to vote down the motion last week which led to a furious response across the city with a number of local businesses coming forward to ensure no child goes hungry this half-term.
Many were spurred on by the campaign led by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford whose efforts have won support across the country.
Rashford’s campaign has led to businesses including fish and chip shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes promising to dish out free food to eligible children over half-term.
Coun Marcus Hart, cabinet member for Education and Skills, said: “We are working together with councils from across the county to make sure that every.
“We continue to support the Ready, Steady, Worcestershire initiative which combines the efforts of a range of agencies and food banks that provide a community response to holiday hunger
The government said it gave £63million to councils in June to help people who are struggling to afford food and essentials.
But the Local Government Association said this funding was intended to be spent before the end of September and had been ‘outstripped’ by demand.
Coun Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: “No young person should have to go hungry and ensuring vulnerable pupils are provided for is a top priority for councils.
“Short-term hardship funding provided by the Government this summer helped councils try and provide much-needed crisis support to all households – including those without children – struggling to afford food but also fuel and other essentials.
“As many households are likely to be economically vulnerable for some time to come, it is vital that the Government restores local welfare funding so councils can provide preventative support to all households who need it.”
All district councils are providing welfare support services.
Anyone in need of help should get in touch with Here2Help Worcestershire or call the hotline on 01905 768053 for more.
Visit https://worcester.foodbank.org.uk/2020/10/26/businesses-rally-to-support-hungry-children-during-half-term/ for a list of local businesses offering support.