Boris Refuses to Extend Free School Meals

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reiterated that the government will “do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry”. Meanwhile, pressure has risen on the PM, including from his own MPs, to commit more money for free school meals…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Boris Johnson during a visit to Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, with Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith, to mark the publication of a new review into hospital food. Picture by Andrew Parsons No 10

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended his refusal to extend free school meals for children in England over the half-term holiday, saying he was “very proud” of the government’s support so far.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is under renewed pressure from leaders, including his own MPs, to rethink the issue.

According to BBC report Mr Johnson said: “I totally understand the issue of holiday hunger…The debate is, how do you deal with it.”

He said the government will “do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry”, the report said.

The prime minister also said he had not spoken to Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford – who has been leading a high-profile campaign to extend free school meals into the holidays – since the summer.

Meanwhile, responding to the Prime Minister’s claim that the Government will “do everything in our power to make sure no child goes hungry this winter during the holidays”, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

“Boris Johnson’s claim does not ring true given his hard-hearted refusal to u-turn on free school meals.

“The idea that other measures will make up for the lack of provision just won’t wash – people know the real struggles that families are enduring. That is why so many communities and businesses have stepped in to provide support while this callous Government stands by.

“The Liberal Democrats want to see a firm commitment from the Conservatives not only to extending free school meals through holiday periods, but also expanding eligibility to ensure any child from a family receiving universal credit can access this lifeline.” Last week, the prime minister had confirmed his stand to avoid a national lockdown against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying his government will work hard to protect jobs and put the country in a better position for an economic recovery.

“I don’t believe a full lockdown is the right course,” he said.

“To all those enduring these restrictions in all parts of the country, I want to repeat my thanks for your bravery, for your patience, and for your public spirited-ness,” the Prime Minister said.

Johnson said the current restrictions are working and that virus reproduction number, known as the R number, is half its “natural rate”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced big changes to the Job Support Scheme set to replace furlough in November in a bid to support businesses affected by the pandemic in England’s “high alert” Tier Two areas.

Under the revised scheme, employers will pay less and staff can work fewer hours before they qualify for project.

Among the measures, instead of employees working at least a third of their hours to qualify for support, they will now have to work just one day a week.

Meanwhile, employers will now only pay 5 per cent of wages toward the cost of hours not worked.

Sunak also announced that a new grant scheme will open for businesses, including hospitality in Tier Two areas, for up to 2,100 pounds per month.