Covid-19 has presented many with difficult choices and some families have seen significant changes to their income.
In some cases this means having their hours cut at work, changing to lower-paid jobs, earning 20 per cent less than they normally would whilst on furlough, or having to live on their savings.
This is before we count all of those who may be self-employed and running their own businesses who have seen their incomes plummet or evaporate.
Many of these people still have the same bills to pay, such as a mortgage, car loan or utility bills, which they can’t cut back on.
Instead of spending another £20 million on the £15 vouchers, the Government instead spent £63 million on giving local councils the resources to specifically target those in need, providing food and essential supplies.
In Nottinghamshire, it gave Nottinghamshire County Council £850,000 for this and last week it also gave Bassetlaw District Council another £520,000 in funding.
With this in mind I want to say well done to Nottinghamshire County Council after it announced it will be using this funding to support all pupils in need, working with schools to identify those who also need help, along with those already on free school meals.
This will also be backdated.
It’s important to remember that many of these people are not eligible for things such as universal credit and would not be eligible for free school meals, or indeed the £15 voucher that some are calling for.
This is despite some of them literally having no money at all and going into debt.
Those on universal credit have had a rise of £1,040 for the year (£20 per week) and for many they have actually seen their incomes increase.
This is why the Government decided that it would be wrong to simply target those currently receiving free school meals and that money should instead be made available for all those who are in need.
This is a fairer and far more sensible approach.
Whilst this will help in the short term, going forwards I would like to see more done to tackle the long term causes of child poverty.
Not everybody on universal credit or receiving free school meals is in desperate need and I think it is wrong of people to suggest that millions of children are starving – they are not.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that all infant classes – reception, year one, year one receive free meals for all pupils – regardless of what their parents earn.
I would like to thank those volunteers who have kindly been working in our communities and have been helping to deliver supplies throughout the pandemic.
This isn’t something that simply started last week.
Whilst tackling child (and adult) poverty is something we must always strive for, it is important to do this in a fact-based and sensible way.