jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG 18th June 2020
CORONABOBS ISOLATION DAY 93 – Diary of a Self-Isolator Tuesday 16th June 2020
More than a million of England’s poorest children will get free meal vouchers over the summer holidays after a massive Tory U-turn.
Boris Johnson dramatically caved in today to demands from campaigners and 22-year-old footballer Marcus Rashford.
As Labour hailed “another U-turn”, the jubilant sports star tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”
The Manchester United and England star captured hearts with a moving letter describing his own upbringing by a single mum – and urging to PM not to let kids go hungry.
Pressure had mounted as the government refused to heed his demands, instead promising a £63m pot for councils to help struggling families.
The Tory U-turn is a massive victory for footballer Marcus Rashford.
The council pot also had to cover other “basic essentials” and wouldn’t guarantee a daily meal for every poor child.
But now the government has U-turned and poured an extra £120m, on top of the £63m pot, into a one-off “Covid summer food fund”.
The fund will extend the current system of supermarket vouchers, which are given to parents of poor children who can’t attend school due to the virus, for six weeks over the summer break.
Free school meal vouchers extended over summer – how it works and who can claim
It’s thought parents will be offered a one-off voucher to cover all six weeks of the summer holiday, worth £15 per week per child.
The vouchers will then come firmly to an end in September, when the government hopes all school pupils will be back in the classroom.
All those who currently qualify for free school meals due to their household income will qualify – the same criteria as for the current voucher system.
The summer holiday vouchers apply to England only, but vouchers have already been extended over the summer in Scotland and Wales.
The money is “additional funding agreed by the Treasury “, No10 said.
Boris Johnson announced the change in a meeting of the Cabinet – hours after his own ministers Grant Shapps and Therese Coffey insisted on standing by the policy.
Exactly 24 hours after refusing Marcus Rashford’s plea, the PM’s official spokesman said today: “The PM welcomed Marcus Rashford’s contribution to the debate around poverty.
“Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister fully understands that children and parents face an entirely unprecedented situation over the summer.
“To reflect this, we will be providing a Covid summer food fund.
“This will provide food vouchers covering the six-week holiday period.
Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed “another U-turn” from Boris Johnson, weeks after the PM allowed the families of migrant NHS cleaners who die from coronavirus to stay in the UK.
Sir Keir said: “This is another welcome U-turn from Boris Johnson.
“The thought of 1.3 million children going hungry this summer was unimaginable.
“Well done to Marcus Rashford and many others who spoke out so powerfully about this issue.”
The screeching U-turn came just hours after the government bullishly defended its plans to end free meal vouchers over the summer holidays.
It is embarrassing for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey – who launched into an argument with the footballer hours before her own government’s U-turn.
Heartbreaking Marcus Rashford plea for people to think about underprivileged children
Therese Coffey launched into an argument with the footballer hours before her own government’s U-
In a plea to MPs he tweeted: “When you wake up this morning and run your shower, take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown”.
But DWP chief Ms Coffey replied: “Water cannot be disconnected though.”
While it’s illegal for water firms to cut off water from private homes, the heating can be cut off – meaning hot water wouldn’t be available.
The U-turn is also a humiliation for Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who spent the morning insisting it was “great” Marcus Rashford had raised his point – but refusing to accept the point itself.
The row had been bubbling for weeks but exploded into life thanks to the intervention of the 22-year-old England forward.
In a letter to MPs, he said he was one of five children. He wrote: “My mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table. But it was not enough.
Marcus Rashford opened up about being one of five kids in a poor household.
“The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked.
“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.
“Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.
“It’s only now that I really understand the enormous sacrifice my mum made in sending me away to live in digs aged 11, a decision no mother would ever make lightly.
“This summer should have been filled with pride once more, parents and children waving their flags.
“But in reality, Wembley stadium could be filled more than twice with children who have had to skip meals during lockdown due to their families not being able to access food.”
Boris Johnson finally changed his tune after repeatedly saying children don’t usually get free school meals over the summer.
This is true – but campaigners warned they face an unprecedented hunger crisis amid coronavirus.
New figures show the benefit claimant count has reached its highest since 1993. And 9.1million jobs have now been paid for by the furlough scheme, which starts winding down in August.
Number of UK workers on payrolls fell by more than 600,000 during lockdown
Boris Johnson’s spokesman admitted the U-turn was thanks directly to Rashford, saying: “The Prime Minister welcomes his contribution to the debate around poverty, and respects the fact he’s been using his profile as a leading sportsman to highlight important issues.”
But it also came hours before Labour led a three-hour House of Commons debate, which would have seen Tory backbenchers line up to urge a U-turn.
Tory ministers had been due to delete Labour’s motion and replace it with one celebrating what the government has already done.
Now they will not oppose Labour’s motion, sources in Parliament said.
No10 refused to say when Boris Johnson took the decision, or whether anyone from Downing Street spoke to Ms Coffey after her row with Rashford.
And so, what did I do today? Finished the grandchildren’s Coronabobs Times and posted it. And I did a great deal of experimenting with music on the i-pad. I discovered Amazon Unlimited Music at £12.99 a month was no good for me. It boasts 60 million tracks but in a Playlist of 37 tracks they did not have6 of mine. That was after contacting them and them checking. I cancelled the service.
In the evening we watched Comedians in Lockdown. Many were funny, some not. “Swiss Pete” was by far the funniest.
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH EVERYDAY ESPECIALLY WHILST IN ISOLATION
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do. — Bob Dylan.
Happiness is…a footballer helping those poorer than himself
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
“I had a neck brace fitted years ago and I’ve never looked back since.”
Love is…just too darned hot
5 Things To Be Grateful For During Lockdown/Coronavirus
We are grateful Lockdown gives us a time…
- A time for the prime minister to stand firm…A time for the prime minister to make a U-turn.
- A time to fight for your beliefs…A time to bide your time.
- A time for tea…A time for coffee
- A time to drink wine…a time to drink water
- A time to explore the “i-pad pro” tablet…A time to accept some of the limitations of the “i-pad pro” tablet
TOTAL STAIRWAY TO EVERST CLIMB CHALLENGE
DAY 73 20 Times – 180 Feet Cumulative Total 11,052 Feet
HORRIBLE LITTLE NUMBERS
©2020 Phil M Robinson