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Michelle Donelan’s letter re: free school meals

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Dear Sir

I read your letter from Michelle with interest, having received an almost identical reply myself.

Please find below the response I sent to her. 

“Michelle,

You say that “Labour use opposition day debates as a political tool to make it appear as though we are against something that in reality we support”. Grow up and do what’s right. Had the Tories proposed this, I have no doubt you would be crowing about it.

You say that you have championed the needs of families across the country, and believe that no parent should be in a position where they cannot afford food for their child. Yet poverty has increased dramatically under your government, and is set to increase further.

You state that this Government has expanded the eligibility of free school meals to more children than any other Government in over fifty years by offering a free school meal to every child in reception, year 1 and year 2. This is misleading as that was under the coalition Government, and was an initiative of Nick Clegg.

Four years ago the Tories abolished the Child Poverty Act and scrapped targets to reduce poverty.

Under your punitive austerity measures, child poverty has soared to its highest level since before the second world war, and infant mortality has risen for the first time in two generations.

According to the Children’s Commissioner there are 600,000 more children in poverty in 2018/19 than in 2011/12, that’s 2.9 million children in working households alone. This is predicted to rise by a further million by 2022 under current government policies, and that doesn’t account for a further 200,000 in poverty due to Covid.

In 2018 one in four children in working households were living in poverty, (a 38% rise since you took power). The Children’s Commissioner attributes this increase to your policies. Under current policies child poverty is set to reach a 60 year high of 34% – that’s more than one in three children, and is a disgrace in a developed country.

To say that this government is supporting poor and vulnerable children is clearly not reflected in either the statistics or your policies. You continue to fail our poorest and most vulnerable children.

In the face of a massive recession, my understanding is that you are not looking to increase taxes for the richest in our society, but rather to increase Vat, and/or add it to food and children’s clothing. This will only serve to further magnify inequality. The poorest should not and cannot share the burden of your failed policies.

Meanwhile your colleagues continue to mock and demonise the poorest in our society, suggesting that FSM vouchers are traded in crack dens and brothels, food parcels are sold for drugs, that parents who are unable to provide breakfast for their children are “chaotic”, and that firms supplying food to hungry children should receive no further government help during the pandemic.

All this while Boris and Dominic line their chums’ pockets with contracts to make profit out of this tragedy.

You should be ashamed.

Yours in disappointment and anger.

Chris Holden”

Melksham

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