News | Published September 24 2019

Department for Education responds to Parliamentary Review Special Report

Following the publication of our Special Report into Holiday Hunger, we contacted the Department for Education. Enclosed below is the response from Michelle Donelan MP, Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families. 

The government wants all children to be well nourished and to develop healthy eating habits, and good nutrition is essential to children’s health, development and their ability to fulfil their potential in life.

We already recognise the benefits of providing a healthy school meal to the most disadvantaged children during term time and some local authorities (LAs) may decide to allocate some of their funding to programmes that help families who find it difficult to provide their children with healthy meals during the holidays. 

Evidence suggests that children from disadvantaged families may experience the school holidays differently to their more affluent peers. They are less likely to access organised out-of-school activities, more likely to experience social isolation and more likely to experience "unhealthy" holidays.

On 19 January 2018, in response to a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Frank Field MP, we announced a programme of research and pilots to explore ways of supporting disadvantaged families during school holidays. 

During the 2018 summer holidays, we awarded £2 million to seven organisations to deliver free healthy food and enriching activities to disadvantaged children. With this money, they were able to support more than 280 clubs and reach around 18,000 children.

In 2019, we more than quadrupled this funding to explore a model of local coordination of free holiday provision in 11 LA areas.

The organisations and areas we have worked with in 2019 are:

Street Games UK - Newcastle (NE region)

Edsential CIC - Cheshire West and Chester (NW region)

TLG - Bradford (Yorks and Humber region)

Barnardo’s - Leicestershire (East Midlands region)

Accord Housing Association - Birmingham (West Mids region)

Family Action - Croydon (London region)

Suffolk County Council - Suffolk (East of England region)

The Romsey School - Hampshire (South East region)

Plymouth County Council - Plymouth (South West region)

Leeds Community Foundation - Leeds (Yorks and Humber region)

Gateshead Council - Gateshead (NE region)

This work is part of a package of support provided by the government for the most disadvantaged families, which includes the provision of free school meals to 1.1 million of the most disadvantaged children and £2.5 billion of funding given to schools, through the Pupil Premium, to support their education. Last year, the department also announced up to £26 million to set up and improve breakfast clubs across the country.

We expect around 50,000 children will benefit from high quality, free holiday provision this year. The aim of this programme of work has been to enable the government to make an evidence-based decision about whether, and how, to intervene in the longer-term, and we will make an announcement on this programme later this year. Thank you for writing about this important matter. I hope this reply is useful.

Yours sincerely, Michelle Donelan MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
September 24 2019

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