Why did Havering’s Tory MPs vote not to extend free school meals?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 October 2020

Havering MPs Julia Lopez and Andrew Rosindell have welcomed a government funding boost of £3,730,000. Picture: Richard Townshend

Havering MPs Julia Lopez and Andrew Rosindell have welcomed a government funding boost of £3,730,000. Picture: Richard Townshend

Richard Townshend

Havering’s two Conservative MPs, Julia Lopez and Andrew Rosindell, who didn’t vote to extend free meals in schools, tell us why they were against the motion.

MP for Hornchurch and Upminster, Mrs Lopez said: “At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the government immediately took steps to bolster the welfare system, increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance by £1,000 a year and making the system simpler to access for those that are self-employed – improving the speed in which people that required support can access it.

“The government has also increased Local Housing Allowance rates, provided a £180m fund to help families struggling to pay their rent alongside a separate fund of £63m fund for local authorities to provide local welfare assistance. In May, as part of the £750m in charity funding provided by the chancellor, the government provided £16m to food charities FareShare and WRAP with established networks for funding local charities and delivering food.

“All of this additional funding is aimed at providing holistic support to families to meet all of their welfare needs, including access to food.

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“The broad issue of support to disadvantaged children and their families has, unhelpfully, been consolidated to a single vote on a single policy. While I recognise that, as with any policy decision, there will be disagreement, I hope that this is helpful in outlining the holistic approach that the government has taken to support to families who require further support.

MP for Romford Mr Rosindell said: “Labour’s motion to extend free school meals didn’t have the good intentions many people ascribe to it.

“It was blatant political posturing, designed simply to paint this Conservative government as the bad guys.

“The reality is that this government has given unprecedented support to families up and down this country, including in Romford and Havering. It is trying to fight this virus while keeping the economy open.

“The Labour Party has the audacity to call for the closing of not just all supposedly non-essential businesses, but also schools, only to then insist that it is the government’s responsibility to feed children forced to stay home under their plans. It would amount to the nationalisation of our children.

“It is ultimately the responsibility of parents to feed their children, and to set a different precedent would be dangerous. However, families also need to know that during this pandemic and these restrictions, they will be supported and that is what the government is doing, including a £9.3bn increase in Universal Credit.”

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