Councils pledge free meals for children over half term

A number of councils in England are offering to provide free meals for children that need it during the half-term school holidays, after the government voted against extending the scheme to eligible children beyond term time.

Councils including Birmingham City Council, Staffordshire and Kensington and Chelsea are amongst those saying they will offer a voucher scheme.

Despite a campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford, and a call from the Labour Party to make free meals available during the October break, the government said it will not extend free meals beyond term time, saying it had given councils £63m for families facing financial difficulties due to pandemic restrictions and had increased welfare support by £9.3bn.

Other councils offering help for children eligible for free school meals include Liverpool Council, Redbridge, Hammersmith, Camden and Southwark councils in London, Greater Manchester and Newcastle City Council. City of York Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Rotherham Council, Kirklees Council, Medway Council, Middlesbrough Council, Bradford Council and Essex County Council are also  among those promising more help.