Support shown for proposed law that could tackle holiday hunger (From Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen)

SUPPORT has been shown for a proposed new law that would help tackle holiday hunger.

A senior Labour MP is to present the bill in parliament which, if approved, would mean councils would have a legal duty to ensure free meals are provided for children who would otherwise go hungry during school holidays.

The School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill already has the backing of 114 MPs from across the Commons, including Frank Field, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger (APPG) and is also the chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee.

Mr Field is calling on the Government to ring-fence £41.5 million, 10p in every pound raised by the sugary drinks levy, to enable local authorities to finance the measure.

He said: “If the Prime Minister were to pick up this bill and run with it, at nil extra cost to the Government, she would tackle overnight one of the great injustices afflicting children in this country.”

Earlier this year, the APPG warned up to three million children risk going hungry during the school holidays.

In Blackburn with Darwen, charity Kingdom Outreach, has provided thousands of lunchboxes for children via volunteers.

David Harling, Blackburn with Darwen’s executive member for schools and education, said: “If the government fully funded the scheme then I feel sure the local authority would be able to arrange it.”

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones is supporting the bill.

He said poverty was the main reason behind holiday hunger and often it was the result of a broken benefits system.

He said: “Responsibility in some cases rests with feckless parents but children should not be made the victims of poor parenting. It is my very clear view we should help them irrespective of the circumstances.”

A Lancashire County Council spokeswoman said if it became law the council would be legally bound to provide it.

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