Boris Johnson says 'we don't want to see children going hungry this winter' in hint u-turn on school meals to come

BORIS Johnson said today "we don't want to see children going hungry this winter" in a hint a u-turn on funding school meals is on the way.

It came after days of fury from MPs and the public after the Commons last week voted down Marcus Rashford's bid for free school meals to continue through the winter.

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The Government insisted it was giving cash to councils to fund the meals instead.

Footie star Rashford has led a huge campaign to try and get more help for hungry kids.

And after the motion was voted down he took to Twitter to share inspirational businesses who were providing free meals to kids this half term.

Boris stressed today that the debate was "how do you deal with" holiday hunger – as he insisted he was working on a solution.

He told the media this morning: "I haven't spoken to Marcus since June but as I say, what he is doing is terrific and we support the local councils.

"Indeed, we fund the local councils and many of the organisations that are  helping in this period.

"But we are also uplifting Universal Credit, by £1000. We think that is one of the best ways you can help families in this tough time.

"I totally understand the issue of holiday hunder, is there, we have to deal with it – the debate is how do you deal with it?

"We are very proud of the support we have given…

"I will repeat my most important point – we don't want to see children going hungry this winter, this Christmas, certainly not, as a result of any inattention by this Government."

Speaking during a visit to a hospital in Reading, Mr Johnson said councils had been given extra cash and Universal Credit had increased.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry this winter during the holidays, that's obviously something we care about very much".

Mr Hancock said today the PM had been in contact with Rashford – but later the PM confirmed they hadn't spoken since the summer.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: "There has been communication between the two, as far as I understand it.

"We have all seen what Marcus Rashford has done, and the way he has conducted himself in this campaign I think is absolutely exemplary.

"He is making an argument based on his personal experience for the benefit of people who really need that support."

Pressed on the response from Number 10, Mr Hancock added: "I'm not in charge of the Prime Minister's correspondence – if there hasn't been, I'm sure that that will be followed up."

But Mr Rashford said on Twitter: "Hmm, unless he's referring to the call we had following the u-turn in June?"

Mr Hancock hinted this morning again that some change was on the cards.

He said: "I accept and I strongly believe that we should all come together to ensure no child should go hungry.

"That’s the central insight between what Marcus Rashford is arguing for."

He stressed that it was "not my area of policy to speak about" but expressed warm words that more help may be coming.

"Our attitude and our purpose is to ensure that everybody gets the support that we need, no child should go hungry," he added.

"The question is how best to do it – I think councils do have a very important role in this."

Boris and Marcus Rashford spoke on the phone earlier this year when the PM decided to fund the free school meals throughout the summer break.

Now the Government are saying because schools are back open and running, that there isn't a need for the vouchers scheme as councils are providing help for families who need it.

But there are suggestions a u-turn could be on the cards

Since last week's vote there's been a furious reaction from the public, who have demanded the PM thinks again on providing the help for kids.

And now Tory MPs are coming out to demand a rethink too.

Former minister Tobias Ellwood said today: "Boris Johnson should talk to Marcus Rashford, have that discussion, lets have a plan, get it in for the Christmas period in time to support our children."

Hailing the “phenomenal” campaign by the England striker, Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis indicated yesterday that reforms may be worked out for the festive period.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: “What we are looking to do is put in place the structure that means even in the school holidays children can get access to the food they need.”

And he suggested ministers are studying how “people who need that extra support, very targeted and very directly, can get that support” from local councils.

The Times also reported that the PM would look to increase funding for the poorest families during the Christmas holidays.

The hints of a rowback came as Sir Bernard Jenkin, a Vote Leave sidekick of the Prime Minister, blasted No 10’s handling of the dispute, saying: “I think we have to admit that we have misunderstood the mood of the country here.”

And he added: “I think the Government will probably have to think again.”

Labour vowed to put the issue to another vote before Christmas.

In a further blow to No 10, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield accused Mr Johnson of treating the poorest children like Oliver Twist, adding she had been “horrified and really disappointed” by last week’s vote.

Meanwhile Tory MPs have had their offices strewn with protests and even vandalised as the anger continues.

Some MPs have had children's toys, placards and plates left outside their offices in opposition to the ongoing school meals row.

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