Marcus Rashford Makes Johnson Change Mind Over Free Meals During School Holidays

The government is to spend about £400m to support poor children and their families in England, following a campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.

A winter grant scheme, to be run by councils, will provide support with food and bills, and a holiday food and activities programme is to be expanded.

Rashford said it would improve the lives of nearly 1.7 million children.

The move represents a significant climbdown for the government, which had argued Universal Credit was enough.

From the package of support, a £170m ring-fenced fund will be distributed through councils until the end of March, with at least 80% earmarked for help with food and bills.

The holiday food and activities programme will be expanded with a £210m investment to cover Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021.

On top of that, there will be a £16m cash boost for the nation’s food banks.

However, Manchester United and England footballer Rashford said he remained concerned about the children who would miss out on help “because their family income isn’t quite enough”.

Support has already been announced for children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than a million people signed a petition set up by the England player, calling for a package of measures including free food for poor children throughout the school holidays.