The endless fights over child hunger expose the Tories’ contempt for the poor

Nobody with a heart wants to see children go hungry during this pandemic. There is a simple and effective way to help prevent this: adding an extra £15 per week to tax credit payments for children eligible for free school meals while schools are closed. This gives parents certainty; it allows them to buy food that meets their child’s needs, while the costs are modest in the context of the sums being spent on the pandemic response.

Yet the government has become embroiled in its fourth public battle about child hunger in just a few months. Last summer, Boris Johnson refused to pay for lunches during the holidays at a time when many low-income parents were facing increasing hardship because of the pandemic. He was shamed into a U-turn by the footballer Marcus Rashford, who has provided the moral leadership so lacking from government. In October, Johnson picked the same fight again, opposing the extension of holiday meal vouchers for half-term. Then last week it emerged that to save money, schools have been pushed towards using caterers to provide food parcels, rather than supplying vouchers during lockdown.

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