Bishop of Bristol asks Government to tackle school holiday hunger and long term child poverty

On 27th October 2020 Lord Woolley of Woodford asked the Government “following the announcements of the Welsh and Scottish Governments, as well as local councils, whether they will end the free school meals postcode lottery and provide free school meals for eligible children in England during the school holidays until Easter 2021.” The Bishop of Bristol asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of Bristol [V]: My Lords, although I agree with the Government that free school meals are not the long-term solution for holiday hunger, the reality is that it is now half-term and children are going hungry. Does the Minister agree that although ​the current crisis demands short-term solutions, there is also a much bigger question at stake? Will she tell us what sustained support the Government will be offering to address the concerns up to Easter 2021, and their plans to tackle the underlying and increasing issues of child poverty in the longer term?

Baroness Berridge (Con): My Lords, the main way in which the Government fund, outside free school meals and breakfast clubs, is through the universal credit system. It may seem like a big figure—£9 billion—but that has meant an increase in universal credit or working tax credit of over £1,000, which is significant in addition to the increase in local housing allowance that has been given. When we look globally through the Anglican Communion we see that we are fortunate to live in a country that, while it is not perfect, does provide a welfare safety net for its citizens.

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