WORCESTERSHIRE MPs who voted again free school meals in a recent vote have welcomed the government's announcement to spend more than £400m to support poor children and their families in England.

The announcement over the weekend, described as U-turn by many political commentators, was welcomed by campaigner Marcus Rashford who said: "I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK."

A winter grant scheme will be run by councils and provide support with food and bills, and a holiday food and activities programme is to be expanded.

City MP Robin Walker, who had previously told the Worcester News he couldn't support the Labour motion as it was a classic "opposition trick”, said this was a package he could support.

"This was what we would want to vote for," the MP said.

"It is a better package, targeted through the use of councils who know their area best, and offering help with not just free school meals but also with holiday activities, and eduction.

"Some sought to use the issue of feeding children but this was what we were talking about all along."

Nigel Huddleston MP said: "Despite the erroneous reporting and unnecessary politicisation of the topic, the debate over school meals was never about whether we provide support to those in need, but the method by which we provide that support.

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"While some decided to focus on what we didn’t vote for, what I did vote for was the emergency package of support measures for families – worth billions on top of free school meals - and endorsed ongoing activities to help the most vulnerable children. We are delivering on that vote by introducing the Covid Winter Grant Scheme and councils will be given new funding to ensure vulnerable households do not go hungry or without essential items. I’m pleased that Worcestershire County Council is set to receive over £1.6m to help those in need in our area."

"I believe that these methods will prove more effective than vouchers and other schemes proposed by the opposition last month.”

And Harriett Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, added: “I am proud that £9 billion extra was put into the welfare system earlier this year, to help children from low income families, and over the last few weeks, our local councils have been able to share how they have used this extra money to help out including donations to food banks and other targeted support.

“The Covid Winter Grant will extend this existing support and provide an important extra level of help for those who may be facing extra financial challenges as a result of the global pandemic."

“The Government has delivered a range of support packages, for businesses and self-employed people to help to protect jobs and livelihoods and it is right that we continue to evolve the way support is delivered for the more vulnerable in society as we continue to deal with the challenges of Covid-19.”