Leeds City Council pledges half a million pounds of top up funding to make sure children don't go hungry in school holidays

Leeds City Council is arranging top up funding to make sure that more than 34,000 children don't go hungry over the school summer holidays.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:45 pm

Analysis by the authority shows that more than half a million pounds extra will be needed on top of what the government was proposing to provide food for 34,700 eligible kids in Leeds across the six week summer break.

Approval for the additional funding is expected to go through the Council’s Executive Board meeting next Wednesday (July 21) so that there is enough time to make sure families are getting the support before the holidays get underway.

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education, said: “It has become apparent throughout the Covid pandemic that children and young people living in poverty are not a priority for this Government and it is disappointing but not surprising that even when they are forced to backtrack, they still don’t deliver on their promises.

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Leeds City Council is helping to make sure the city's poorer children don't go hungry through the school holidays.

“In Leeds we remain determined to do all we can to support our most vulnerable children and families. Covid has had a devastating impact on everyone and the thought of leaving families already facing desperate times without food on the table was something we just couldn’t do, especially with the Government ending furlough and the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

“The Government need to get a grip, form a recovery plan and really focus on supporting our children and young people, the long-term impact of Covid on their education, mental health and future life prospects could be huge and at the moment they seem to be at the back of the queue.”

It comes after the Government were forced into a series of u-turns over the provision of free school meals throughout the pandemic, finally agreeing to provide funding for the provision of meals for the Easter and summer holidays.

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Coun Mary Harland, Executive Member for Communities, added: “Protecting our most vulnerable communities has always been a priority for Leeds and it is something that we will continue to do. As the pandemic has progressed it is clear that existing inequalities have widened and it is children and young people who are bearing the brunt.

“We have seen repeated u-turns by the Government after they have been shamed into providing meals for vulnerable children but each time it has taken a real effort to get them to do the right thing, even now they are making promises and still failing to deliver. They may be prepared to stand by and watch children go hungry but we are not.”