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Food Security and Poverty: Lockdown

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 21 January 2021

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on tackling food poverty and insecurity during the January 2021 covid-19 lockdown. (911171)

The Government have put in place a winter package to support the economically vulnerable. This includes a £170 million covid-19 winter support grant for local authorities to support households with food and other costs, and £16 million of funding for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to support charities with food redistribution to the vulnerable.

Over the last five years, millions of families have experienced food insecurity, causing a 74% increase in food bank usage, yet the Government are refusing once again to extend free school meals over the February half-term, saying that councils have to cover the cost. What assurances can the Secretary of State give that every single child entitled to free school meals, including those with parents with no recourse to public funds restrictions, will receive the meals they need over the half-term?

While we have not extended the free school meals during the half-term period, we have announced a range of other interventions, including the holiday activities scheme that was announced late last year and also the grants that I have just announced that local authorities can use to help those in need.