A school meal
A school meal

Press release from Barrow and Furness Constituency Labour Party

Barrow and Furness Labour Party would like to thank Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United footballer, for his vocal efforts to persuade the Conservative government to carry out a U-turn on their policy of refusing to have free school meal vouchers for vulnerable children through the summer holidays.

We saw the proposal to suspend the vouchers for the holidays as a callous attempt to save at the expense of some of the children most at risk in our communities. Barrow and Furness constituency has almost 1,500 children relying on free school meals, from information from the local authority, and the government proposals would have caused many severe hardship.

We are particularly baffled by the apparent U-turn of our MP, Simon Fell, who in an interview with BBC radio earlier on Tuesday this week stated he thought there should be some kind of system to help but that,”… this tokenistic view of vouchers being the only answer probably isn’t the right one.” Yet in an interview aired just a few hours later on BBCNorthwest Tonight, he appeared to claim to have been arguing for children continuing to get this additional voucher support ,” … a few of us have been arguing for this for a while” Does Mr Fell still think the use of vouchers is tokenistic?

Labour Party spokesperson and local executive member Bob Qazi asked,Which is Mr Fell’s real view on this as it is justnot clear? Is he really committed to the voucher system and helping our vulnerable children or is he just now seizing a political opportunity to look good? It is not only families receiving free school meals for their children, or benefit support, who are in genuine hardship in the current Corona Virus pandemic. Many families who have somebody in work are struggling from day to day to provide food for themselves,resulting in the increase in use of food banks and charities providing the much needed food.”

We at your local Labour Party would like to thank Mr Fell for his amazing turnaround. We now ask him to focus on urging his government to provide the necessary funding to our local authorities so they can maintain the services we all rely on, which have been damaged so severely due to their austerity programme; and provide the promised educational support for children not at school who do not have access to the internet and the online support from teachers.

Once again the Conservative government, and our MP, have shown their true colours by wanting to scrap a crucial and vital benefit for some of our most at risk people and then, due to public pressure, realising it now has to do what is right.

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