Fylde MP Mark Menzies voted by proxy yesterday against the proposals to extend free school meals for the poorest children into this coming half term and during the Christmas holiday. Amid mounting local and national criticism, he has today defended his stance which consquently firmly rejected an opportunity to support Lytham St. Annes’ poorest children.
Our Member of Parliament said: ‘This Government extended the eligibility for free school meals to 50,000 more children than previous administrations. Since the start of Coronavirus, I have voted for £9 billion of additional welfare funding for families including an increase of £1,000 for those on Universal Credit, increased housing allowance, a £180 million fund to help struggling families with rent, and a further £63 million for local authorities to use on welfare assistance. A good deal of those measures were opposed by Labour.
School meals were extended through summer because children had not been in school since March and families faced those additional food costs. Some 99 per cent of those children are now back in school getting those free meals. All of these measures are there to help ensure families in need are looked after.’
Tory MP Ben Bradley has also posted a series of tweets defending his decision to vote against the motion. He said the vote was not ‘help poor kids, yes or no’ but a promise to ‘roll out a huge expansion of long term state dependency to millions, when a large percentage of those on free school meals are not impoverished and don’t want or need it.’
In response to the vote and Tory MP statements, Marcus Rashford MBE has said, ‘Child food poverty has the potential to become the greatest pandemic the country has ever faced’ and he called on MPs to ‘face this head on. I don’t have the education of a politician… but I have a social education having lived through this. These children matter… and for as long as they don’t have a voice, they will have mine.’
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) today has added a deep warning that the coronavirus pandemic risks worsening child poverty and inequality in the UK.