Marcus Rashford slams Government's 'lack of humanity' for failing to back Man Utd star's child poverty taskforce
MARCUS Rashford has criticised the government for a "lack of empathy" in its response to his campaign to tackle food poverty among children.
The Manchester United star, 22, has won praise this year for a campaign to see more help given to children from low-income families.
He earlier formed a taskforce with some of the country's biggest retailers to help address the issue, and this month wrote to parliament endorsing a number of policy recommendations.
The measures included an expansion of free school meals to all children whose families are on Universal Credit, holiday provision for all children on free school meals, and an increase in the value of weekly Healthy Start food vouchers from £3.10 to £4.25.
Taking to twitter after receiving a response from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, Rashford said he was "disappointed by the lack of empathy shown in recent weeks towards protecting our most vulnerable, the future of this country".
"We pride ourselves on being a 'United' Kingdom but as the days and weeks roll on without effective action, we are showing the next generation just how divided we are as a nation," he said.
"Letting millions of children in the UK go hungry at night is only an issue of humanity.
"We need to do better. I urge you to protect the future of our most vulnerable children.”
The proposals made by the taskforce were first laid out in the National Food Strategy, an independent review commissioned by the government last year to look at how the UK's food system could function better.
Williamson's letter, seen by BBC Breakfast, reportedly declined to back the measures, instead highlighting schemes already in place.
"I recognise that you and the Child Food Poverty Taskforce are supporting three of the recommendations in the National Food Strategy relating to food for lower income families," the letter read.
"The government will carefully consider each of the recommendations in the report as we approach the next spending review."
'MAKE THIS A PRIORITY'
Rashford's work on food poverty began after the government announced earlier this year that a scheme to provide free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown would not be extended through the summer.
He has also spoken publicly about poverty experienced by his own family when he was young.
The campaign brought about a government U-turn, meaning around 1.3million children were able to claim free school meals over the holidays this year.
Rashford's Child Food Poverty taskforce was set up along with retailers including Tesco and Asda as well as food poverty charity FareShare.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chair of the education select committee, compared the government's approach to tackling food poverty to "a lot of clothes pegs without a washing line".
"We need to do a lot better. The government's existing food programmes [are] not enough," he said.
"We can't have a food policy by band-aid. The taskforce that Rashford has set up, the education minister should sit on that taskforce."
He also suggested the government could use money raised by the sugar tax to combat child food poverty.
"It's a major social injustice that childhood hunger is going on in our country. [The government] need to treat this with a real seriousness, make it a priority," he said.
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