No apology from Tory MP Paul Scully after free school meal comments

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Paul Scully says there are better ways to help children suffering from hunger than “simply passing on” free school meal vouchers during the school holidays. 

The comments came after he sparked a furious backlash for his remarks made on the BBC’s Politics Live programme. 

Ahead of a Commons debate on free meals in school holidays, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq asked him: “Do you want to feed hungry children or not?”

In which he replied, “Children have been going hungry under a Labour government for years.” 

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Footballer Marcus Rashford, who is behind the campaign on child hunger, has urged MPs to work together and stop being influenced by “political affiliation”.

Paul Scully has since received wide-spread criticism from BBC viewers, constituents and Sutton Lib Dem councillors who have called for him to apologise. 

Hina Bokhari, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Sutton & Cheam said: “Mr Scully must apologise for his comments on the BBC.

Sutton’s children deserve better than this Conservative government and an out-of-touch MP. 

“Saying ‘children have been going hungry for years’ is unhelpful and fails to acknowledge the challenges many families are facing through no fault of their own.

“We need free school meals extended throughout the holidays, especially as many families are suffering due to job losses and the end of furlough schemes.

“Children should not suffer any more under this Conservative government.”

Hina and Lib Dem London Mayoral candidate Cllr Luisa Porritt advertising #LondonPovertyChallengeWeek.

On Wednesday, the Labour motion was rejected by 322 votes to 261.

Speaking to Sutton Guardian, Paul Scully said: 

“This is part of a long term problem that needs a long term, sustainable solution rather than just getting political attention in the lead up to the next school holiday.

The best way to support parents being able to feed their children is clearly in work with Universal Credit in support, rather than solely relying on benefits which previously had a cliff edge that discouraged people to move into part-time work.

“The government supports free school meals for 1.4m children from low-income families, has put £9bn extra into welfare and £63m to help councils support families in need in response to the current situation on top of the £190bn in just seven months trying to protect businesses and jobs.

“We’ve linked holiday activities to a food programme resulting in thousands of disadvantaged children being able to benefit from activities and meals.

“It is this type of holistic approach that will have a longer-lasting effect than simply passing on vouchers without consideration of the underlying cause or the wider effect on the child.”

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