Havering joins the dinner queue in agreeing to fund free school meals

Havering Council has joined other London boroughs in agreeing to fund free lunches for children during half-term.

On Wednesday evening (October 21), the Government won a vote of 322 votes to 261 not to fund lunches for children in need over the school holidays.

Havering families will, from 10am on Monday (October 26), be able to apply for a lump payment of £15 a week for every week their school is out.

Around 7,000 Havering children are eligible for free school meals, meaning the scheme will cost the council more than £105,000 per week.

Council leader Cllr Damian White said: “This has been a massive debate nationally and I know it has created division around the country.

“This goes beyond politics. We have taken this decision with only one agenda – to ensure children do not go hungry over half term.

“This is why I instructed officers to find a way of ensuring those who qualify for free school meals continue to get the support they need during half term.

“We will also do the same over Christmas if needed. This is part of our ongoing support to residents throughout the crises.

“This has only been made possible by the additional financial support that the Government has made available to local government. This meant we could boost our existing financial support package.”

A number of London councils have announced they will fund free meals, including neighbouring Redbridge, which will also cover meals over Christmas.

Parents and carers can apply for support for half-term via an online form on the council’s coronavirus webpage from 10am on Monday (October 26).

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter