Having worked with Andrew Percy MP and Leader of North Lincs Council Cllr Rob Waltham on this issue I am very pleased to say that North Lincs Council will be using additional funding from the government to provide free school meals to schoolchildren in our area.
Over recent months I have worked with local headteachers, charities and colleagues in Parliament to push for greater support for families and children. Yesterday I made the difficult decision to ‘rebel’ and vote for the opposition motion calling on the government to continue providing free school meals support during school holidays, until Easter 2021.
Having lobbied the government hard for the establishment of the "Covid Summer Food Fund", and having heard feedback from constituents, I am very well aware of the flaws of the voucher system. However, given the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, I believe that we should have put in place a temporary, albeit imperfect solution to run until Easter 2021. This would have allowed time for further discussion to take place on a longer term solution.
I was present during the debate and many of my colleagues rightly highlighted the progress the Conservative government has made in tackling inequality. It was a Conservative government that expanded free school meals to all infant age pupils and those in post-16 education, established the 'Holiday Activities and Food Programme', and extended the 'Breakfast Club Program' - all remarkable programmes that have provided targeted support to children in need. Locally, the Conservative-run North Lincs Council has also set-up the fantastic Under-5s Imagination Library literacy scheme, a programme that aims to narrow the attainment gap in our area, and which I am proud to support. This is the Conservative Party that I joined and will continue to believe in. Moving forward, I will continue to work with colleagues and residents to lobby the government on this important issue.
As always my team and I stand ready to help residents in need of help. Since December, we have worked on more than 2,000 cases for local people. If you know of any resident who is unsure if they have received the correct support, do please ask them to get in touch with my office - we want to help.