Medway Labour and Cooperative Group today slammed the Medway Conservative administration for ending holiday free school meal provision for Medway children.  Under their decision, Medway school children who are entitled to free school meals will only receive a meal during the holiday if they attend one of the holiday activities laid on by the council.  During previous holidays, children who did not attend one of the holiday activities were entitled to a voucher to cover their free school meal entitlement.  This was funded by the government’s Household Support Fund.  The decision was made by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, under urgency provisions, which means it was not open to scrutiny, in April.  The decision was reported to council only on Thursday 21st July.

Cllr Joanne Howcroft-Scott, Medway Labour and Cooperative member of Medway Council’s Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: ‘This decision is truly shocking.  When the Conservative’s cost-of-living crisis is really hitting Medway families hard, those who are in most need of help receive this kick in the teeth.  We are talking about children who will go hungry over the summer.  They have failed to tell parents, too, and it is no wonder that they are keeping it quiet.  This is completely unacceptable and the council needs urgently to change this decision and show some leadership in supporting Medway families.’

Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Cooperative Shadow Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: ‘We support Medway Go, the council’s holiday activities schemes and many colleagues have enjoyed visiting activities in their wards.  However, there are simply not enough places to accommodate all the children entitled to free school meals in Medway.  Shockingly, there are now 10,000 young people in Medway entitled to free school meals.  There are simply not enough places on Medway Go to accommodate them all.  The Council is rationing food to children.  It has the money to feed them.  It is, callously, choosing not to.  This decision is appalling and underscores not only the administration’s financial incompetence but their lack of understanding of what life is like for Medway families.  The council needs to change this terrible decision now.’


For further information: Clive Johnson


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