Disadvantaged children in Devon will benefit from free meals through the Christmas holidays as part of a £170million Government sceme.

Devon County Council will receive £2million from the Covid Winter Grant Scheme to support vulnerable families and ensure children don’t go hungry.

The scheme represents a U-turn from the Government, which last month whipped Conservative MPs to vote against a Labour motion calling for the extension of free school meals over the half-term.

Businesses and councils stepped in to offer help following the result, announcing they would fund meals during the October half-term for those who needed them.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, who caused outrage last month when she
suggested businesses who were offering free meals for vulnerable children should not seek any further Government support, said the announcement was ‘welcome news’.

Ms Saxby said: “No child should ever go hungry, and the extra £2,042,754 for Devon County Council will ensure local families that need extra support with food and bills this winter can access it, which is very welcome news.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby says the government has brought in numerous measures to help low income families during the pandemic. Picture: Nikki PowellNorth Devon MP Selaine Saxby says the government has brought in numerous measures to help low income families during the pandemic. Picture: Nikki Powell

“I am also pleased that the Prime Minister has announced the extension of the Holiday Activities and Food programme, which provides healthy food and activities for children during the school holidays and has a massive impact on disadvantaged young people in our community, to cover Easter, Summer and Christmas next year.

“Investing in children’s future is central to the Conservative Party’s mission to level up and extend opportunity across the country, and with this additional support we can prevent the hunger we know is so damaging to a child’s life chances.”

The funding will be ring-fenced, with at least 80 per cent earmarked to support with food and bills, and will cover the period to the end of March.

Local authorities will receive the funding at the beginning of December.

READ MORE: Protestors leave empty plates outside North Devon MP Selaine Saxby’s office.