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Update: We are hugely grateful for your support. In light of the Government’s climb down we do not need to collect further funding. If you would like to support the ongoing work of the Good Law Project, you can do so here.
Families across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Many workers have lost their jobs or been furloughed, earnings have been slashed, and the price of the weekly shop has gone up. The Office for National Statistics reports that 2.6 million households are struggling to cover expenses such as energy and food, and we know that hundreds of thousands of children have had to skip meals during the coronavirus lockdown.
Despite this, the Government announced last week that they would not continue the national school meal voucher scheme – for 1.3 million children in England – over the summer holidays and has refused to commit to any replacement. There is no serious room for doubt – unless this changes, children will go hungry.
Along with the food charity Sustain, we have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP: first to ask what action he would take to address the issue and then to clarify the position following the announcement that the voucher scheme would not be continued. You can read our letters to Gavin Williamson here and here.
The DfE responded to our letters to say that provision over summer is still being actively discussed, but did not deny that the voucher scheme had been discontinued.
This is just not good enough. We will not stand by whilst the poorest children go hungry. In light of the Government’s wholly unsatisfactory response to our letters, and its premature decision to end the voucher scheme without an alternative means of support for families to take its place, we have taken the first step in the formal process of issuing judicial review proceedings. You can read this pre-action protocol letter here.
The outcomes of litigation are never certain. But we believe the case, and the issue it tackles, is compelling.
With your support, we want to ensure that every child has food to eat – even when schools are closed.