On Wednesday 22 October 322 Members of Parliament, including Sarah Dines, MP for Derbyshire Dales, voted to end the proposal that free school meals should be provided until Easter.

There has, understandably, prompted some discussion. The following observations may be of interest to your readers.

  • There are 4.2 million children living in poverty in the UK (source: Children’s Commissioner), 600,000 more than in 2011 – 2012. Child poverty is defined as living on or below 60% of the national income
  • Only the English Government voted to end the provision of free school meals until Easter 2021. The Irish, Scottish and Welsh governments all voted to continue to provide children with a free lunch
  • The proposal to provide meals for the children would have cost £24 million; the Chancellor’s “eat out to help out” scheme cost £522 million
  • VAT on PPE clothing is to be charged again from November. This charge will adversely impact on millions of low paid employees who will have to pay the extra VAT charge on their own PPE
  • The 322 MPs who voted to halt the provision of free school meals during next year’s school holiday each earn circa £79,000 p.a. In addition to this MPs are to receive a pay rise of £3,300 p.a. from April 2021
  • Boris Johnson has stated publicly that he finds it difficult to manage on his salary. As the Prime Minister he is paid £160,000 p.a. plus use of the flat in No. 10 Downing Street and Chequers

This short list (it could have been much longer), demonstrates that we are being governed by MPs who have little , if any, understanding of the daily lives and challenges that are faced daily by the people that they have been elected to serve. It also demonstrates a degree of callousness and lack of empathy on the part of many MPs that is quite disturbing.

Theresa May, when she was Home Secretary, once chided her fellow Tory MPs about their attitude towards the electorate, telling them that they were being described as the “Nasty Party”. It seems that they are back.

Yours sincerely

Ed Runham

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