Rashford victory: Johnson U-turns on free school meals

Councils across England are to receive an extra £170 million to support families with food and bills this winter
8th November 2020, 9:45am

Share

Rashford victory: Johnson U-turns on free school meals

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/rashford-victory-johnson-u-turns-free-school-meals
Marcus Rashford Victory: Boris Johnson U-turns On Free School Meals

The free school meals campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford will result in councils across England being given an extra £170 million as part of a wider Covid winter funding scheme.

Prime minister Boris Johnson telephoned Mr Rashford yesterday to discuss the plans, which would represent a major U-turn on the provision of free school meals over the school holidays.

The majority of the £170 million awarded to councils - 80 per cent - has been earmarked to support families with food and bills. The government is to spend about £400 million supporting poor children and their families in England, following months of campaigning by Mr Rashford.


Need to know: Hungry pupils can't concentrate: Rashford plea to DfE

More: Heads' 'dismay' at government refusal on free meals

Background: Has Boris Johnson ever experienced hunger?


The prime minister called Mr Rashford yesterday to discuss the new package, after Manchester United's game against Everton.

Marcus Rashford vows to continue free school meals campaign

In a tweet yesterday, Mr Rashford said: "Following the game yesterday, I had a good conversation with the prime minister to better understand the proposed plan, and I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat food poverty in the UK."

He said that "there is still so much more to do" and that he was concerned about the 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals because "their family income isn't quite low enough". 

He added: "I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight the rest of my life for it, because, in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom. I don't want any child to go through what I went through, and any parent to experience what my mother experienced." 

It has also been reported that the government's holiday activities and food programme, which since 2018 has provided food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children, will be expanded across England next year, covering Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021, costing up to £220 million.

Healthy Start payments are also to be increased, from £3.10 to £4.25 per week from April 2021. These payments support pregnant women and families with children under the age of 4 who receive benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. 

This is the second win for Mr Rashford: in the summer, the government U-turned on providing free school meal vouchers for eligible pupils over the summer holidays.

Mr Rashford's campaign has received widespread support this year, and led to him being made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters