Many of you have written to me expressing your heartfelt support for the extension of the free school meals voucher scheme. Provision for free school meals is normally term-time only, but the Government has listened, and I’m glad that these vouchers will now be provided over the six-week summer holiday through the COVID Summer Food Fund.
I know that many families across Rushcliffe are facing significant financial hardship as a result of Coronavirus, and it is absolutely right that the Government has stepped in with additional help for disadvantaged children. I’m also grateful to Marcus Rashford for his role in highlighting the difficulty which many families face. Further details of the COVID Summer Food Fund will be set out shortly.
The extension of the voucher scheme is part of a wider package of assistance that the Government has made available for families who are struggling during these turbulent times, including:
- The Government continues to spend over £550 million a year, through the National Funding Formula, providing free school meals for disadvantaged children and young people across England.
- As of 15 June, additional funding for the national voucher scheme to support children at home has totalled over £154 million.
- The Government announced an additional £63 million to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19.
- The Department for Education’s Holiday Activities and Food programme will run again this summer at a cost of £9 million.
- The Government has also supported families to cope with the impact of coronavirus through support measures such as the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system, including increasing Universal Credit.
Thank you to so many of you for writing to me with your support for the extension of the free school meal voucher scheme.