The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has published his budget proposals which protects council-funded free school meals. The council has had to save £200m since 2010 due to government austerity and must save a further £30m by 2024 due to rising demand and continuing cuts to its budget.

Despite these pressures the budget proposals continue the council’s commitment to ensure every primary school child receives a free school meal. Tower Hamlets Council was recently recognised by the organisation Sustain as showing cross-cutting leadership due their action on food poverty in response to Covid-19. Sustain has previously rated the borough as one of the top in London in its work to tackle food poverty.

Tower Hamlets Council also committed to providing meals for children in need across the borough over the Christmas break and the Tackling Poverty team worked with Tesco and Asda to provide vouchers worth £25 to spend on food over the holiday period. In total around 19,000 children benefitted. With schools closing to most children due to coronavirus the council will be continuing to provide vouchers so children don’t go hungry.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “I’m pleased that we are protecting council-funded free school meals in the borough. Our latest budget protects this investment to ensure the best for our young people despite the financial pressures we face from increasing demand and further cuts from central government.”

Cllr Mufeedah Bustin, Cabinet Member for Planning and Social Inclusion (Job Share), said: “We’re protecting Free School Meals and are ensuring no child goes hungry in the holidays. The campaign from Marcus Rashford shamed the government into taking some action and I’m delighted we’ve been recognised as showing leadership in our efforts to tackle food poverty.”

NOTES:

  • Council-funded Free School Meals extends provision above the government’s Universal Infant Free School Meal scheme so it also covers those at KS2 who aren’t eligible for government-funded FSM.
  • The council invests over £3m p/a for Free Schools Meals
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