Rather than standing with children going hungry in our county, Gloucestershire Conservatives chose to play party politics and congratulated the Government on their meagre support.
At last week’s County Council meeting, the Liberal Democrats sought to highlight the plight of children suffering from food poverty in Gloucestershire. Proposer, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, asked the county’s Conservatives to stand with struggling families, and to join their call for the Government to fund policies recommended by a report into Food Poverty commissioned by Boris’ own team.
These recommendations included:
- Giving free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent
- Expanding holiday food and activities to support all children on free school meals
However, instead of trying to end child food poverty for good, Gloucestershire’s Conservatives chose to congratulate the Government for the limited support that has been offered to families in the county – knowing full well that children in the county will go to bed hungry.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said after the debate:
‘In amending our motion last week, the Conservatives demonstrated to everyone in Gloucestershire that they don’t believe in the mission to eradicate child food poverty for good.
‘Given the opportunity to endorse the recommendations from the independent National Food Strategy, they instead lined up to congratulate Boris’ Government on the meagre support offered to struggling families, both during term-time and during the holidays.
‘The refusal to support hungry children was abhorrent and the public should be in no doubt that the Nasty Party is alive and well in Gloucestershire.”
Cllr Colin Hay, seconder of the motion, said:
‘The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated an ever-present problem; one that consecutive Governments have failed to tackle.
‘The refusal to support these proposals show the nasty side of the Conservatives is alive and well, while refusing to write to Marcus Rashford MBE, to thank him for shining a spotlight on the issue, demonstrates a pettiness that shames this County Council.’
Motion proposed by Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats
Proposed by Cllr Colin Hay
Seconded by Cllr Paul Hodgkinson
- Believes that it is shameful that children still go hungry in the UK.
- Commends the initiative of Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford who has successfully campaigned on school holiday hunger and has recently formed a taskforce with some of the UK’s leading food retailers and charities to help reduce child food poverty.
Notes that this taskforce has called upon the government to fund three policy recommendations from the National Food Strategy to end child food poverty for good:
- The expansion of free school meals to every child from a household on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 1.5m children aged seven to 16
- The expansion of holiday food and activities to support all children on free school meals, reaching an additional 1.1m children
- Increasing the value of the Healthy Start vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25 per week and expanding it to all those on Universal Credit or equivalent, reaching an additional 290,000 children under the age of four and pregnant women
This Council concurs with the conclusion of the taskforce in calling upon the Government to immediately fund these recommendations, and resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to:
- Mr Marcus Rashford commending him for his initiative and offering this Council’s support for his work.
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer calling upon him to fund these three recommendations, as a matter of great urgency.
- Our six local MPs, chastising them for their recent votes/abstentions, and asking them to make urgent representations to the Chancellor on this issue.
Conservative Councillors refused to support any of the recommendations above.