Children of parents who lose their jobs over the coming weeks risk missing out on free school meals over the summer because of a loophole in the scheme, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has warned.
It comes following a wave of job losses this week, with John Lewis and Boots alone cutting 5,300 jobs.
The current government guidelines say you must apply for a voucher for the Covid Summer Food Fund one week before school ends. For the majority of schools that close on 20 July, this means you must apply by Monday 13 July. Only children who qualify for school meals before the end of the term are eligible for support from the fund.
Layla Moran has written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warning the rule could mean thousands of children could end up “falling through the cracks”. She has urged the government to urgently close this loophole so that parents who lose their jobs, but miss the current deadline, can still access vouchers through the scheme over the summer. Layla is also calling for more support to help prevent children falling into poverty, including an emergency uplift in child benefit.
Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:
"The deadline of this week means that for those parents sadly losing their jobs as a result of the crisis, it will be too late to apply for free school meals.
"Thousands of children risk falling through the cracks and going hungry over the summer unless this loophole is closed.
"This crisis has shown that, at heart, we are a compassionate country. The government now needs to wake up to that reality and ensure no child is left behind."