Tag Archives: meal

#BringBackBrown: ex-PMs endorsement of Rashford school meals petition sparks support

The secret of great political drama – as with comedy – is timing. And the timing of Gordon Brown’s political intervention is very dramatic for Boris Johnson.

The former Labour prime minister, who was in office between 2007 and 2010, has declared his support for footballer Marcus Rashford’s petition for schools to provide free meals to children whose families are stricken with poverty – possibly because of Tory Covid-19 restrictions.

Johnson has already refused Rashford’s demand. As far as he’s concerned, poor people’s ankle-biters can starve.

Or, if you want a less partisan view, here’s The Independent:

Poorer pupils will not receive free meals during school holidays, No 10 insists – putting Boris Johnson on a fresh collision course with footballer Marcus Rashford.

The Manchester United star has launched a fresh campaign to help hungry children, calling for vouchers for October’s half-term break and at Christmas.

The England striker stepped up his campaign by launching a Commons petition, saying: “Whatever your feeling, opinion or judgement, food poverty is never the child’s fault.”

The petition is also calling for free school meals to be extended to any household which receives benefits – to help a further 1.5million under-16s, during term-time.

But the [prime minister’s] spokesperson said: “We took that decision to extend free school meals during the pandemic, when schools were partially closed during lockdown.

“We are in a different position now. Schools are back open to all pupils and do not regularly provide food to pupils during term-time.

“We believe the best way to support families outside of term times is through universal credit, rather than schools subsidising meals.”

It’s easy to punch holes in this statement – but I don’t have to.

Mr Brown appeared on the BBC’s Breakfast News to say that he has signed Rashford’s petition, and he was delighted to explain his reasons:

Politely and calmly, he absolutely shredded the Tory prime minister’s statement:

It’s clear that Naga Munchetty had been told to end that segment of the interview, giving the government the last word, but Brown wasn’t having any of it. He explained exactly why the statement was nonsense and put the ball back very firmly in Boris Johnson’s court, saying it is for the (current) prime minister to answer this – not a stooge.

Then the most successful UK chancellor of the 21st century (still) levelled his verbal guns on current chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying – effectively – that his economic plans are nonsense. And, again, he was making perfect sense:

The interview has sparked a surge of support for the former chancellor and prime minister, whose calm, reasonable delivery prompted nostalgia for the days when the government was run by reasonable people who understood how a country works, rather than by populist prattlers whose only concern is making a fast buck for themselves:

Perhaps we need more interventions like this – to put Johnson and his hysterics firmly in context.

God knows, we’re not getting it from Starmer the Abstainer.

Source: Boris Johnson rejects Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals to half-term and Christmas holidays | The Independent

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While Sunak offers pointless meal vouchers they can’t use, child malnutrition doubles in six months

The offers in Rishi Sunak’s summer statement were intended to distract you from this.

Of course child malnourishment has doubled in the last six months, because more children are in poverty – and were, even before the Covid-19 crisis hit the UK.

The number of households with hungry children has doubled during lockdown because children reliant on school breakfast clubs and lunches have been deprived of them.

And their parents – already too poor to afford to feed their children in normal circumstances – have been left to support their families on a fraction of their normal pay (if they’re lucky) or on Universal Credit.

But if they’re claiming UC, they’ve had to wait at least five weeks for their first payment – and possibly as long as 11 weeks.

They won’t be able to benefit from the Chancellor’s “meal deal” vouchers because their parents/guardians can’t afford half the price of eating out – which is necessary before the vouchers can be used.

And let’s remember that Boris Johnson wanted to end free school meals for deprived children during the summer holidays, only relenting after a high-profile footballer’s campaign won widespread public support.

The detail that makes this news horrifying, rather than merely appalling, is the fact that fewer than two-thirds of all hospital trusts have provided information.

It means the number of malnourished children in the UK may in fact have tripled – or worse.

What if any – or many – of them die?

Tory voters: did you really want that on your conscience when you voted your beloved Boris Johnson such a huge victory last year?

Almost 2,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition in the first six months of the year – double the number over the same period last year – prompting fresh concern that families are struggling to afford to feed themselves and that the pandemic has intensified the problem.

Freedom of information responses from almost 50 trusts in England, representing 150 hospitals, show that more than 11,500 children have been admitted to hospital with malnutrition since 2015.

Almost 1,000 under-16s with malnutrition were admitted as inpatients to Cambridge University hospitals NHS foundation trust alone, suggesting the affluent city has wide disparities in wealth.

Collectively the figures reveal 11,515 cases of hospital admissions of under-16s due to malnourishment. Fewer than two-thirds of all trusts responded, suggesting the real total figure is much higher.

Source: Cases of child malnutrition in England double in last six months | Society | The Guardian

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Backlash against Sunak’s ‘meal deal’ voucher scheme that ignores people in genuine need

Members of the public are speaking out against Rishi Sunak’s offer of vouchers supporting half the price of eating out – pointing out that people need to be able to afford the other half of the cost before they can use it at all.

It’s an upper-middle-class jolly that won’t help people who rely on food banks, or carers, or beleaguered NHS staff who Sunak’s own government is persecuting, they say – rightly.

And they say the decision to offer meal vouchers was in very poor taste when Boris Johnson was keen to stop providing such vouchers to parents of children who receive free school meals over the summer holidays, even though the Covid-19 crisis has put many of them in extreme need.

Here’s just a selection of the responses. See if you agree with them, rather than Sunak:

(Good point about the self-employed.)

https://twitter.com/CptPicardigan/status/1280947082879254528

Yes, what a world.

To think that we could have had fairness under a Jeremy Corbyn government instead, if only people had engaged their brains before going to the polling booths last year.

Come to that, isn’t it incredible that it is too much to hope for people to engage their brains before voting?

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Yes, it is more ‘meal deal’ than ‘new deal’ – but Sunak’s summer statement isn’t ALL bad

Rishi Sunak: his job could be hanging on the result of this plan. Shame it has already been sabotaged by his boss Boris Johnson.

It didn’t matter what Rishi Sunak was going to say in his summer statement because Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and the other Tories had already sabotaged it.

Sunak’s objective is to save jobs while the UK works through the post-Covid recession, but his problem is that his colleagues’ insistence on easing lockdown means the Coronavirus isn’t over yet – no matter what Johnson says.

In this nation of shopkeepers (as Napoleon had it), if we want to keep people in their jobs, we need to keep spending money into – and through – the economy. That means going out and paying for things.

But the number of new infections in the UK is high – and will remain so, while Johnson insists on helping the virus infect other people by opening pubs, schools, and whatever else he’s planning next.

That means people are going to be reluctant to resume normal patterns of social consumption.

It’s going to be difficult in the extreme to restore confidence after these Tory blunders. After schools and pubs, Johnson can claim it is our social duty to go back out and spend until he is redder in the face than the gammons he represents, but the public will only hear him telling us to go out, catch the virus and die.

That’s the second hurdle that Sunak faces; thanks to Johnson, public trust in the claims of politicians is at an all-time low, being worsened all the time by his insistence on lying whenever the mood takes him and refusing to apologise when his lies are exposed.

So the ending of the furlough scheme in October is directly counter-productive; watch the number of redundancies increase when that month comes round and try to tell me I’m wrong.

The offer of a £1,000 “jobs retention bonus” is likely to fall similarly flat. The conditions are that employees must be carrying out proper work, and be paid at least £520 per month – the lower limit of National Insurance payment – and it seems unlikely that many employers will be able to manage this.

Similarly, the VAT cut from 20 per cent to just five per cent to help out restaurants, pubs, cafes, B&Bs, hotels, theme parks and cinemas may only have limited success. Who’s going to go, if there’s a chance they’ll catch a fatal disease?

Sector-specific stimuli such as this are a good idea – don’t get me wrong – and this would work if the number of Covid infections was much lower than it is (in England, at least) – and if more people were interested in wearing face masks, perhaps (how would that work, when they’re eating food?) – but as I’ve already mentioned, Johnson has put a stop to that with his ridiculous blunderings.

And the already-infamous “meal deal” voucher, offering 50 per cent of the cost of meals for everybody eating out between Monday and Wednesday, throughout August, may go hungry for customers. Here’s the reason:

On the other hand, raising the threshold for stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000 might conceivably be a good idea, if it stimulates construction work as people are encouraged to buy new homes.

Possibly best of all the measures laid out in the statement was a scheme to create jobs for young people, subsidising six-month work placements for people aged 16-24.

If this is used to re-skill the workforce – actually preparing the UK for future opportunities – then it has enormous merit.

But I can see employers using it as a cheap alternative to the workers they already have. Why take just £1,000 over three months to keep on your current workforce when the Tories will give you a teenager for twice as long and pay all of their costs?

So my initial verdict is that this is final proof of the Conservative government’s economic illiteracy; they really couldn’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

But it would be wrong to pre-judge a plan that hasn’t gone into practice yet.

The sad part is that this may break Sunak but Johnson will laugh it off, no matter how disastrous the result.

Source: Coronavirus: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils £30bn plan to save jobs – BBC News

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The two faces of the Tories – enscapsulated in two policies today

This is the UK’s Conservative government:

And this is also the UK’s Conservative government:

Huge handouts to rich corporations, while they take away what little the poor receive to help them survive.

It is homicidal.

But millions of poor people insanely voted for rule by these insults to humanity.

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Is the government cutting school meal vouchers for ALL deprived kids?

No square meals: vulnerable children will be forced to go hungry during the school holidays because the stingy Tory government wants them to starve.

School meal vouchers for deprived children in at least one council area are being stopped – because it’s half term.

Isn’t that typically short-sighted of the Conservative government (Westminster funds the scheme)?

The coronavirus crisis means more people than ever are short of cash, and this will only tip the most vulnerable even further into poverty.

This is a decision to starve children – and for no reason at all.

Here’s the Liverpool Echo:

Children in one of Britain’s most deprived boroughs will have to go without free school meals over half term.

Knowsley Council said it was unable to extend its voucher system over the break as the government would not fund the scheme outside term time.

Cllr Jayne Aston, the borough’s finance chief, said: “Despite our best efforts, and those of other organisations, we have been unable to persuade the government to recognise the challenge many families are facing and fund the vouchers over the school half term break.”

Although the government agreed to fund free school meals during the Easter holidays, it has so far refused to extend provision into either half term or the summer break.

How many children in other council areas will be affected by this?

And how much harm will the Tories cause by making them starve?

Source: Government won’t fund school meal vouchers for deprived kids over half term – Liverpool Echo

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School meal vouchers for poorest families ‘delayed’ – yet another Tory coronavirus fail

School meal: this image is from before the coronavirus lockdown. These kids are probably starving to death right now, waiting for their mythical Tory meal vouchers.

Oh, they’ve been delayed, have they? Funny, that…

Funny that the claim comes after This Site ran a poll asking whether anybody had received their vouchers – and two-thirds of the respondents said no.

Funny that the Tory government seems unable to supply anything that it has promised in the coronavirus crisis.

They promised plenty of personal protective equipment for NHS staff dealing with people who have the disease – and didn’t supply it. Medical professionals are dying, who should be helping to treat the virus, because of this failure.

They promised ventilators to stop people with the disease from dying of the pneumonia that kills them – and didn’t. This meant GP surgeries ended up asking some of the most vulnerable people in the UK to sign forms saying the did not want ventilators if they caught the disease – effectively signing their lives away.

They promised 100,000 tests per day to find carriers of the disease – and ended up turning away offers to supply test kits.

They promised to help victims of domestic abuse who have been shut in their homes with their abusers. No such help has been forthcoming.

They promised all kinds of financial packages to help businesses and employees hit by the pandemic – leaving gaping holes in the provision, through which many people are in danger of falling (if they haven’t already done so).

These Tories have promised the world, and delivered very little indeed – apart from at least 7,097 deaths so far.

So ask yourself: are they evil, or just monumentally stupid?

Many families whose children are eligible for free school meals have not received supermarket vouchers as promised by the government because of delays in the supply system, school leaders say.

Headteachers and school business managers in England said the problem was widespread, and many took to social media to complain about difficulties accessing the scheme and delays in delivering vouchers to the families who need them.

Until now there has been support for the government’s announcement of a national voucher scheme to ensure that children from the poorest families continue to receive free meals while schools are closed during the Covid-19 crisis.

Source: UK’s poorest families suffering as free school meal vouchers delayed | Education | The Guardian

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Plutocracy in the UK: It seems the only qualification to rule is a massive bank account

Many of the donors dined secretly with Theresa May [Image: Rex Features].

The Tories can protest innocence all they like; what do YOU think these millionaires and billionaires discuss at these meals with ministers that they have bought with their hefty donations?

Call This Writer a cynic if you want, but I simply don’t think they discuss the weather.

Common sense suggests that, having spent a pretty penny propping up the Tories financially, these people will want a say in what those Tories do.

Of course, this would conflict with the principle of democracy, in which the Tories would be expected to do in government what they promised in the manifesto that was supported by a large proportion of the voting public.

(That’s the manifesto that seems to have been whitewashed out of history, as you’ll remember.)

The suggestion of corruption is heightened by the fact that the Tories had to be pushed into complying with their promise to name Leaders Group meal guests, the fact that all of these guests are spectacularly rich Tory donors and none of them are poor, and the fact that the Tories refuse to disclose what was discussed and whether it had any effect on their policies.

What are we to conclude – if not that the only qualification needed, to have a say in the way the Tories run the country, is to be filthy rich?

Matters such as conscience and responsibility have no bearing on it.

Humiliated Tory chiefs have finally named dozens of super-rich donors who dined with Theresa May.

Guest lists were slipped out without fanfare on the Conservative Party’s website.

The new list names 64 donors who attended a Leader’s Group meal with Theresa May or a top minister between January and June 2017.

Billionaires who attended meals in that period include Bestway cash and carry chief executive Zameer Choudrey, JCB boss Lord Anthony Bamford and hedge fund tycoon Sir Michael Hintze.

The latest dinner was believed to have seen billionaires and tycoons dine on lobster and beef with the Tory leader just weeks ago.

The meal came just hours after the government confirmed millions of people’s benefits would be frozen for another year.

Despite the newly-published list the Tory party refuses to say what is discussed at the dinners, even if it touches on government policy.

Source: Tories quietly name more than 50 donors who dined with top ministers and Theresa May after pressure from the Mirror – Mirror Online


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Police provide 128 meals for the hungry of Newcastle

cropped-foodbank.jpgHere’s a heart-warming story from Paul Timney on Facebook:

“Just been accosted by my local POLICE. !!! BUT, GOOD !! was walking past poliss station, (Newcastle) CID bloke (who I know ) says ” still helpin THE HUNGRY ? ….” my reply ; saying NOWT ! He sez ….. ” wa freezers f****d , got loads in ! ,” ….So I axed ” Like what ? ” he sez ” Breakfasts and Pie dinnas” Me, says, YES ! So went in (voluntarilly ) and came out wi 46 dinners and 82 Breakfasts ! All semi defrosted , use by date 2019 .Ma freezers full , so been on phone 2 local HELPS. ; ;people coming … .. I wud never of thort to ask at Police station 4 food. Thanx N.P.F. (Etal Lane)”

The use of language is a little inventive so for those having trouble, it seems the freezers at Etal Lane Police Station, in Newcastle, have broken.

They contained 82 breakfasts and 46 dinners which were thawing out.

So a member of Newcastle CID called out to Mr Timney, knowing he helps people who go hungry (due to any number of reasons, including poverty, no doubt) – possibly at a food bank, although I don’t know him well enough to say anything for certain – and offered him the food.

It’s an act of kindness that many may consider extraordinary, as it came from the police – and that is precisely why I thought it was worth flagging up.

Let’s hope other authority figures follow the example – or perhaps even try to overturn the legislation that has forced people to turn to food banks.

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Cameron’s delight: school pupils suffering ‘Victorian conditions’

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Don’t you just hate it when politicians rig the statistics to show ‘facts’ that are demonstrably untrue?

According to the Conservative Party, the number of children in poverty has fallen by 300,000 under the Coalition Government – but poverty is measured as a percentage of average income; when the nation’s average income drops, poverty is said to have dropped as well, even though this is clearly untrue.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Those with less than 60 per cent of median income are classified as poor. This ‘poverty line’ is the agreed international measure used throughout the European Union.”

Here in the UK, wages have suffered their longest-sustained fall for no less than 150 years.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. Source: ONS.

Average incomes in the years up to 2012. This is the most up-to-date graph I have. Source: ONS.

So no wonder the BBC and the Mirror are reporting that children are arriving at school in “Victorian squalor”. This is what the Coalition Government wants.

The BBC reported: “Claims about poverty in the school-age population will be heard at the NASUWT teachers’ union annual conference in Cardiff. The union asked members for their experiences and received almost 2,500 responses. It was not a representative sample of teachers, but among those replying more than two in three reported seeing pupils come to school hungry.

“Almost one in four of the teachers who responded said they had brought in food for pupils who were hungry, and an even higher proportion had seen the school feeding pupils.

“More than three in four had seen pupils arriving at school with “inappropriate clothing” such as no socks or coats in bad weather.

“Similar numbers claimed that a bad diet meant that pupils were unable to concentrate on their work.”

The Liberal Democrats said they had helped families by introducing free school meals for all infant children. That’s the caring side of the Coalition Government for you. Rather than sort out the underlying problems – that they created – they put a patch on it and say it’s solved.

Meanwhile, a Tory spokesman said – get this: “Because of our policies, there are more jobs than ever before, wages are rising faster than prices and with the lowest inflation on record, family budgets are starting to go further. The NASUWT should recognise how the Conservatives have rescued the economy, and through that, delivering the jobs that secure a better future for families.”

Jobs that pay far too little to make any real difference – 28 per cent of them are on insecure zero-hours contracts.

Who do these selfish toffs think they’re fooling?

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We must get rid of them before they cause any more harm to our children.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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