The Conservative Cabinet at County Hall has agreed to provide children eligible for free school meals, vouchers to the value of £30 for the Christmas holidays and £15 for February half term. They have also agreed set aside £1m for a further programme of support which will be developed as government guidance emerges.
Labour County Council spokesman on Childrens Services, Cllr Nigel Bell’s attempts to get the £1m utilised urgently and for the scheme to be run until the end of next year was rejected.
Said Cllr Bell: ”It was disappointing that the Conservative majority on the panel voted against my amendments where we urged them to lobby their government to make sure Hertfordshire has the financial resources to make sure all children eligible for free school meals are properly catered for to the end of 2021.”
“It was particularly crucial after yesterday’s statement from the Chancellor that unemployment will rise in the country, that our Conservative controlled Council should prioritise extra funding and resources to deal with the inevitable rise in child poverty.”
Continued Cllr Bell: “I was very disappointed that the Conservative majority couldn’t support these sensible calls.”
These vouchers will be available to parents as a right, and are in addition to the meals being provided in Hertsmere by a local charity.
Said Cllr Christian Gray, Deputy Group Leader, who led the Hertsmere Labour challenge: “Although we are very grateful to the charity stepping up, the Tories ‘approach to delivery of the meals in Hertsmere has been akin to a Victorian soup kitchen seeing kids and parents queuing up at designated drop off points to collect their handouts: A true pound-shop budget approach. Our motion focused on vouchers, providing dignity, respect and independence and I am glad that the County Council has now taken this onboard.”