Children living in poverty are missing out on free summer activities and meals due to competitive bidding processes, says Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham as he calls for long-term, sustainable funding to tackle holiday hunger.
Recently released answers to written questions submitted by Alex to the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, show that in 2019 only two out of thirteen bids for holiday activity funding from the North East were successful – neither of them in Teesside. The other 11 bids, including one from Stockton Borough Council, which were worth a combined £5.6m were rejected by the Department for Education.
Alex’s call comes in support of the North East Poverty Commission who have been lobbying the Government to increase funding for the 2020 allocation – a campaign which has fallen on deaf ears as the DfE has provided the same amount – £9m – as in 2019.
Children and young people living in poverty shouldn’t miss out on free summer activities and meals simply because they happen to live in an area that was unsuccessful in a competitive bidding process.
Our area is one of high deprivation and the fact that none of the Teesside bids were successful, when there is a clear need for these programmes, is extremely disappointing.
The Government should be looking to increase funding to this scheme to ensure every child doesn’t go hungry over the school holidays – not roll out the same amount and allow those with better bid writers to hoover up the money.