LAST week Parliament voted down the Labour Party’s Opposition Day motion on free school meals, as indeed did I. Some have since tried to make this a very divisive issue within communities, and I would like to explain why I voted as I did.

This is the first Government to help with meal support outside of school holidays but it is not for schools to shoulder that administrative responsibility or cost. The education budget is there to educate.

Last week Dorset Council was awarded an additional £1.3 million of hard won, un-ringfenced public money; after much lobbying by me as your MP and others. Dorset Council is best placed to offer help direct to families who are struggling the most and the Government is ensuring they have the money to do so.

The Government has also increased financial support through Universal Credit with a £1,000 top-up, as well as £12 million invested in the National Schools Breakfast Programme.

I know full well that we have child poverty here in West Dorset. Before becoming an MP, I myself raised thousands of pounds to help support families in need. So, in response to those who say I want children in West Dorset to starve or I don’t believe in helping them – nothing could be further from the truth.

I am moved, once again, by the level of community response to support others. It does, in itself, speak so highly of what our communities and businesses are willing to do – as indeed they have stepped up to do throughout this crisis. A new round of grant funding, through the Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund, launched on 26th October, ensures our local charitable food initiatives are well prepared too.

To read my response on this in more detail please visit my website at: