Boris Johnson faces further embarrassment over free school meals after the government office tasked with boosting social mobility urged him to U-turn and extend food provisions for England’s poorest children.
The prime minister is under increasing pressure to back food vouchers for poverty-hit youngsters during the coronavirus pandemic after a high-profile campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford.
The Manchester United star has called on the government to fund vouchers over the Christmas break and other holidays and a petition has attracted almost 900,000 signatures.
Now, the Department for Education-appointed Social Mobility Commission, previously known as the Child Poverty Commission, has intervened.
Underlining its recent report, which said the government’s record on social mobility was “appalling” before Covid-19 took hold, the SMC said Johnson should step up support.
A commission spokesperson said: “We know that the current pandemic is having its greatest impact on the poorest regions in Britain where people are already struggling to afford food for their families.
“Our recent report – The Long Shadow of Deprivation – identified some of the ‘coldest’ social mobility spots in the country and many of these are now in the higher tiers of Covid restrictions.
600,000 more children are in poverty than in 2012. We believe the government should do all it can to start reversing that trend. It should begin by ensuring that all children are properly fedSocial Mobility Commission
“Our earlier research this year showed that 600,000 more children are in poverty than in 2012.
“We believe the government should do all it can to start reversing that trend.
“It should begin by ensuring that all children are properly fed.
“But it needs to go much further. We now need...