The government’s decision not to extend free school meals for children in England into the half term holiday is shocking and a sad reflection on this government’s attitude to the welfare of the 1.3 million children who claim and depend on free school meals. It would appear this Government is happy to spend £522m on the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme but has a problem spending just £20m to provide those free school meals for the most needy children.

It is shameful that all but and hand full of conservative MPs voted against providing free schools meals in holiday time, including our local MP Luke Hall, and it speaks volumes that it has taken the joint efforts of a letter signed by over 2,000 top child health specialists and the 22 year old Manchester United footballer Marcius Rashford to make the moral and welfare case for providing food for our poorest children.

Government has a responsibility to protect those who are most vulnerable in society. It is clearly failing and their attitude towards free schools offers an ugly glimpse into a persistent strand of Tory thinking about poverty. Too many Tory MPs who lead privileged lives believe their success is down purely to their hard work, not the advantages that were handed to them on a silver platter. The corollary of this belief is that people who live in poverty, who cannot get a job which pays enough to support their family, are themselves to blame. Poverty is less the result of individual life choices but overwhelmingly the result of having to live in a society stained by massive inequality, low pay, unemployment and poor mental health. No wonder 70% of children in poverty come from families trapped in such circumstances.

John Turner


Thornbury & Yate Constituency Labour Party.

Hawkesbury Upton,

South Glos