Monday, 7 August 2017

Free school meals families need summer benefits top-up.

Sometimes you wonder how nobody seems to have realised that if it is deemed necessary that children in poorer families should receive free school meals, then it should be asked what happens to them outside term time.
A cross-party report  has warned the loss of free meals during school holidays can heighten the risk of hunger among children.The UK government said it was helping millions meet the cost of living.Currently, more than 76,000 children in Wales are eligible for free school meals.The UK-wide All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom in April said hunger among children during school holidays "is one of Britain's hidden costs of poverty".Survey data seen by the inquiry found a "significant proportion of teachers and school staff notice children returning to school hungry on the first day after the holidays".The report called for councils to be given an obligation to facilitate the delivery of free school meals during term time and for funding to be allocated from the sugar tax.
The idea of a sugar tax was first raised by Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood  who has welcomed the 2016 budget announcement of a tax on sugary drinks an idea that was derided  by some politicians
The party had proposed a 20p per litre levy on sugary drinks, which it says would help 20,000 people in Wales lose weight. 
The sugar tax announced in George Osborne's 2016 budget differs in that the levy would be imposed on drinks manufacturers to ensure they reduce the amount of sugar in drinks.
In Wales there was a 10% increase in the number of three day emergency food supplies given to children in July and August 2016 compared to the previous two months, according to figures from the Trussell Trust.
A total of 5,185 three-day emergency food supplies were provided for children by The Trussell Trust's food bank network in Wales during July and August 2016, compared to 4,733 in May and June 2016.
Plaid Cymru's Steffan Lewis has said families whose children get free school meals should get top-up payments to help feed them during the summer, and has  called for the Welsh Government to be given powers to top-up Department of Work and Pensions benefits.

Mr Lewis said,
"It is estimated that the loss of free school meals during the break can add £30 to £40 a week to parent's outgoings,".
"For those who are already on the breadline, summer holidays can be the final straw.
"We should be supporting them to ensure that they have access to plenty of nutritious food over the summer break."
 "We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet teachers report that children are returning from school holidays malnourished,
The important thing is to address ans solve this issue but as Education is devolved clearly it would be easier to Identify children in need by the Welsh Assembly and Welsh Councils.

This may look at a call for more powers for the Assembly but in reality it giving those who can deal with the problem more effectively the Tools to carry this out.


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