James Cleverly MP responds to the Marcus Rashford free school holiday meals issue

James Cleverly, MP for Braintree. Picture: JAMES CLEVERLY

James Cleverly, MP for Braintree. Picture: JAMES CLEVERLY - Credit: Archant

James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, which covers some of the villages in the Great Dunmow area, said children are being supported this half term.

Mr Cleverly said there are 33 programmes through Essex County Council’s Holiday Hunger scheme, operating in partnership with the Active Essex Foundation, and more than 1,000 children are being provided with free activities and food.

“In addition, ECC have ringfenced an initial £165,000 for foodbanks and other community food distribution groups with a focus on this half term.

“The “Half Term Emergency Fund” is being managed by the Association of Local Councils and will see up to 10,000 food hampers made available to families. Each hamper is designed to feed a family for a week.”

Mr Cleverly said that in June, recognising that many families would struggle because of coronavirus, a £62m funding plan was put in place through local government. This was in addition to the furlough scheme, the self employment support scheme, and the uplift in Universal Credit.

“This support is best directed through the welfare system or through specific schemes that target those who are most in need, such as the local authority welfare assistance fund.

“The £62m local authority welfare assistance fund is to provide essential food and other items to those that need it and will be active over the current half-term holiday.

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“Essex County Council has received £1.4 million from this fund to distribute locally and to support local families, preventing young people from going hungry during the holidays.

“The best way to support families and children is through the welfare system and not through providing supermarket vouchers.

“Both central government and Essex local government are continuing to work together to protect vulnerable families.”

He and other MPs voted down the motion in the House of Commons to extend free meals during the school holidays in England until Easter 2021.