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Chancellor Rishi Sunak intervenes in free school meals dispute

Rishi Sunak's [L] intervention will inevitably be seen as an attempt to mitigate the impact of leading footballer Marcus Rashford's [R] high-profile national campaign to pressure the government to provide free school meals for vulnerable children

Following mounting opposition to the government’s decision to deny disadvantaged children free school meals, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has entered the fray with a view to containing the furore.

Sunak has appeared to contradict the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, by claiming that the government has already given money to local councils in England for free school meals during the half term holiday.

Speaking to BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat on Tuesday (October 27), Sunak claimed the government had invested “billions of pounds” in “universal credit and housing allowances”.

“We’ve got to be able to trust local councils to make decisions for their people”, Sunak added.

Sunak’s comments are likely to be interpreted as an attempt to divert the focus of attention away from the government and onto local councils.

It is an indication of the level of pressure the government feels over its unpopular decision to discontinue free school meals for children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds.

The government has been particularly embarrassed by a high-profile national campaign launched by leading footballer, Marcus Rashford, calling for the provision of free school meals for vulnerable children.

A petition created by Rashford, who plays for both Manchester United and the England national team, calling on the government to support vulnerable children by extending the free meals scheme, had attracted nearly 1 million signatures by Tuesday afternoon (27 October).




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