Column in the Barry & District News by Alun Cairns MP:
Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced a package to support child poverty and to help fill the education gap that has arisen because of Covid. The Covid Winter Grant Scheme will support children, families and the most vulnerable in communities and is a policy that Marcus Rashford has welcomed warmly.
This is something that I have been calling for over a period of time. Many will have criticised the government over recent weeks but my objective has been to help deliver a long term, sustainable solution that meets child poverty and hep educational attainment. After all, we need to meet the immediate challenge but also offer long term prospects out of deprivation.
The package includes an expansion of the Holiday Activities and Food programme to cover Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021 and an increase in the payments to low income families with children under four years old to help buy food and baby formula.
In my earlier responses on the matter of free school meals, I highlighted that I had been in discussions with Ministers to seek sustainable, long term solutions to the challenges and I am pleased that the Prime Minister has responded with the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.
My interest in this is that the policy and grant helps marry the education gap that has developed as a result of schools being closed and meets the poverty challenges. The education element is fundamental to overcoming long term deprivation and the food provision meets the immediate difficulties.
This Covid Winter Grant goes further than the Welsh Government’s current scheme and more money has been made available to the First Minister to follow suit.
I know that there has been a lot of strong feeling on this issue and I would suggest that if you agree that this offers a more rounded solution, you may also want to raise the matter with the Welsh Government.
We must address the educational challenges that tackling Covid has raised and this policy would obviously support schools and teachers in raising education outcomes locally.
I hope that this helps to clarify the action that is being taken by the UK Government and demonstrates our commitment to tackling child poverty through long-term, sustainable measures.