Buckinghamshire MPs Rob Butler and Greg Smith vote against free school meals for children during school holidays

Aylesbury Vale MP Rob ButlerAylesbury Vale MP Rob Butler
Aylesbury Vale MP Rob Butler
Yesterday MPs rejected a proposal which was to extend 'free school meals' during the school holidays.

The motion lost by 322 votes to 261.

Greg Smith, MP for Buckingham and Rob Butler, MP for Aylesbury both voted against the plan.

Boris Johnson whipped Conservative MPs to vote against the motion.

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He said that "it was not the job of schools to “regularly provide food during the school holidays”.

More than 1.4 million children experience food insecurity during the holidays, according to the Food Foundation.

They said in a report to parliament earlier this year: "Research shows summer holidays have a negative effect on the educational levels of low income children through a combination of social isolation, low levels of stimulation and activity and poor diets."

Just yesterday the Bucks Herald wrote about Child Poverty rising across Aylesbury Vale.

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You can read about that by clicking here.The analysis shows 23.4% of children aged 16 and under in Buckinghamshire were living in families with low-incomes in 2018-19 – compared to 23.3% in 2014-15.

Buckingham MP Greg Smith said: “Nobody wants to see anyone go hungry, let alone a child. And that is why the government has acted, through the welfare system to ensure support is there for those in the greatest need in our country.

"Universal Credit, for example, has been increased by £1,040 a year to help struggling families meet the cost of living, part of an additional £9.3 billion increase in welfare payments by this government. That is not to mention £63 million extra given to councils to support families in need.

"It is right that the government will continue to provide free school meals in term time.

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"It is equally right that to actually solve the financial problems faced by the most vulnerable in society must be though the welfare system, not ad hoc voucher schemes as suggested by Mr Rashford.”

If you need help during the half term, please click here to be re-directed to Aylesbury foodbank Aylesbury MP Rob Butler said that the government would continue to provide free school meals during term time, but not during the holidays.

He said: "“During the unprecedented time at the start of the pandemic, it was right that extraordinary measures were taken to provide meals at Easter and in the summer,

reflecting that boundaries between education and home were blurred, especially for the children of keyworkers.

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“However, since September, we have been in a different position – with schools back open to all pupils. It is not for schools to provide food for pupils during the school

holidays, nor has it ever been. Teachers have worked extraordinarily hard during the current crisis and to ask them to continue to keep schools open solely to provide meals

would be unfair and unreasonable.

“I believe that the best way to support families outside of term time is through Universal Credit, which this Government has increased by more than £1,000 for families this year

due to coronavirus. This represents an additional £9.3 billion of support to families all year round. Moreover, the Government is ensuring that children who are eligible for

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free school meals continue to receive them if they are required to self-isolate.

“I personally am committed to ensuring that young people have the support and opportunities to succeed for the future, and we will always provide a safety net to

ensure those who need it most are supported.”

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