Wokingham Borough Council’s Conservative Group is urging the Council’s leadership to press the Government to make all Universal Credit recipients with children eligible for free school meals.
Local Conservatives want the Council’s administration to help with the cost of living by lobbying for a policy change that will help families on Universal Credit who are struggling to feed their children. Pointing to support provided during the pandemic under the previous administration, the Conservative Opposition argue that the new leadership needs to do more to support residents in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the Conservatives, the Council handed out around £80million to help local people and businesses from 2020 onwards. On top of this, the Conservative leadership ensured school meals were provided to eligible children during school holidays using Household Support funding from Central Government. Most recently, this included providing free school meals during the May 2022 half-term holidays.
The party committed to other measures, including maintaining a reduction in Council Tax for the least well-off households, something which the Liberal Democrats and Labour refused to support.
To help struggling high street businesses, the Conservatives also froze car parking charges to encourage people back into town and village centres.
A new Government support fund has now also opened for applications, and residents in need are being urged to apply. Residents with children eligible for free school meals can apply for a voucher to cover the summer holidays, and people of state pension age can receive vouchers for food, fuel or cash.
Cllr Laura Blumenthal, Shadow Executive Member for Levelling Up and Social Housing, said: “There are many families on Universal Credit who don’t get free school meals and who are now finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“We are calling on Wokingham Borough Council’s administration to show that it will stand up for families and lobby the Government for a review of the eligibility criteria.
“Throughout the pandemic and afterwards, the previous Conservative administration worked hard to get support payments to individuals, families and businesses who were struggling.
“It’s important that the Council sends the message to residents that no-one in our community gets left behind.”