Like my colleagues, I believe that we do need a long term, workable solution to tackle food inequality across the UK. However, the recent ‘Opposition Day motion’, brought by the Labour Party, would not have achieved this, as such motions have no legislative power. Such motions only serve to provide a blinkered and negative spin on a situation for the purpose of political point scoring.
The debate was about whether to provide parents, with children who are eligible for free school meals during term time, with a shopping voucher during the school holidays in England. The Welsh Government has already agreed to this in Wales and as free school meals are a devolved responsibility and I respect the Welsh Government’s position on this.
No one wants children to go hungry. We are experiencing unprecedented and difficult times, and that is why the UK Government rightly extended free school meals in England, during the Easter and Summer holidays, whilst students were off school. However, students are now back at school and those eligible for free school meals will continue to get that provision during term time.
The UK Government is supporting Wales throughout the pandemic through the welfare system, with working tax credit and Universal Credit increased by £20 per week. An extra £4.5 billion has been given to the Welsh Government to help manage the consequences of COVID-19, in addition to other support schemes such as furlough and business support. In doing so the UK Government continues to support all families on low incomes, pre-school children, children with disabilities and those living in challenging circumstances, who may otherwise miss out under the Welsh Government’s free school meal scheme. In England, the UK Government also plan to examine their holiday and school clubs to ensure children do receive a hot, balanced, meal as well as a structured and stimulating environment. I urge the Welsh Government to consider providing Welsh children similar support.
I continue to work with local charities and agencies to support all of my constituents and businesses in Wrexham.
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