Well done Sheffield City Council for stepping in to fund this!
Tories’ action dubbed “Starve a Kid to Save a Quid!”
Sheffield TUC welcomes Sheffield’s Labour City Council’s immediate response to the Tories voting down free school meals for children during the school holidays. “Thank you, Sheffield City Council, for stepping up to the plate and funding free school meals for children from low income households this half-term” said Martin Mayer, Secretary Sheffield TUC. “It is truly shocking that this Tory Government has the audacity to vote against Mark Rashford’s free school meals campaign, yet finds billions to pay for fat contracts to big business, fund the “Eat Our to Help Out scheme” and award themselves a hefty pay rise. It is quite right that the Tories’ action has been dubbed ‘Starve a Kid to Save a Quid’”, he said.
Poverty is on the rise in Sheffield, which has already been tagged the “Low Wage Capital of Britain”. Approximately 25% of workers in the city are on the Minimum Wage or on some type of low pay/vulnerable status such as zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employment, part-time or temporary/agency worker. Many of these workers were struggling to put food on the table before the pandemic, yet are the most likely to have seen a drop in income due to being furloughed, given reduced hours or losing their job altogether. With record numbers on Universal Credit in the city, real hardship is taking place. The money required for food vouchers for low income families during school holidays is very small, especially when compared to other Government spending during the pandemic. “Boris Johnson talked about levelling-up, but his Government’s actions seem designed to do the opposite every time” said Martin Mayer
Following the Tories’ vote in Parliament on Wednesday night against a national free school meals voucher distribution over the half term holiday, the leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Julie Dore, has issued the following statement:
“Sheffield City Council has pledged to support thousands of children and young people with free school meals during the half-term week. Vouchers of £15 per child for the week will be provided all who are eligible for free school meals, this is in line with the proposal that was put forward in parliament this week but rejected by the government. 22,000 children in Sheffield are currently in receipt of free school meals and will receive a voucher meaning the total cost will be £330,000.”
Sheffield City Council will work with schools and communities to administer the programme.
Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “Following the decision by Government not to support free school meals over the half term, I feel strongly enough to make sure children and young people in Sheffield don’t go hungry over the holidays. “As we move into Tier 3, increased numbers of families across the city will be facing financial hardship, especially as we enter the winter months. The vouchers will provide support to people who are most in need and even though the council budget is under massive pressures due to COVID, it feels like the right thing to do. “This is something that should be funded by central government. It should not be down to individual councils creating a postcode lottery for whether children go hungry or not. However, it is clear after what happened this week that the government are willing to stand by and do nothing, as a council we are not. “No child should go hungry; I hope this support goes someway in stopping that and encourages everyone who needs the help to claim it.”
For comment please contact martin Mayer Secretary Sheffield TUC on 0776 107 8482