Children: Poverty

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 25th November 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps the Government plans to take, other than through free school meal vouchers, to tackle childhood poverty.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Tackling child poverty is a key priority for the Government. Our recent focus has been on supporting people financially during these unprecedented times with an injection of £9.3 billion pounds to strengthen the welfare system in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid Winter Grant Scheme builds on that support with an additional £170m for local authorities in England, to support families with children and other vulnerable people with the cost of food and essential utilities this winter.

Devolved Administrations have received equivalent funding through the upfront funding guarantee, which was recently increased to £16bn for the year.

Our £30bn Plan for Jobs is the first step on the ladder to achieving this and will support economic recovery through new schemes including Kickstart and Job Entry Targeted Support.

The Holiday Activities and Food programme, which has provided healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children since 2018, will also be expanded across England next year. It will cover Easter, Summer and Christmas in 2021, and cost up to £220m. It will be available to children in every local authority in England, building on previous programmes – including this summers, which supported around 50,000 children across 17 local authorities.

Our long-term ambition is to level up across the country and continue to tackle poverty through our reformed welfare system that works with the labour market to encourage people to move into and progress in work wherever possible.

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