Local MP John Penrose has welcomed this weekend’s announcement of fresh Government moves to deal with ‘holiday hunger’.
John had previously pointed out that traditional criticisms of food voucher schemes, that they can create stigma and don’t work as well as a properly-designed benefits scheme including cash and direct help, made the temporary ‘Covid Summer Food Fund’ voucher scheme a questionable long term answer to the problem of holiday hunger. He had vowed to make this point to Ministers, to try and get the system improved.
This weekend’s decision to extend and expand the successful Holiday Activities And Food Programme does exactly what John and other like-minded MPs have been calling for. All children eligible for free school meals will be eligible for a ‘holiday club’ programme that provides healthy food and fun activities during the summer, Christmas and Easter holidays, plus there’s an extra £170m Covid Winter Grant scheme ringfenced for local Councils to provide direct help for families most in need.
John said “it was all very well to point out the problems with the temporary summer ‘holiday hunger’ voucher scheme, but only if we could come up with a better alternative instead. That’s why I’m so pleased with this announcement, because it does exactly what I and others have been asking for, for weeks. I hope that everyone, on all sides of the political spectrum, will be able to unite behind this new approach and give it the cross-party support that it deserves.”