Politics

Sugar tax 'could help to end holiday hunger'

All Parliamentary Group on Hunger urges the government to divert sugar tax proceeds to ending the 'evil' of holiday hunger for Britain's poorest children

Money raised from the tax on sugary drinks should be ploughed into ensuring children don’t go hungry during school holidays, a group of MPs and peers has said.

So-called ‘holiday hunger’ affects up to three million youngsters across the UK because the school break places extra pressure on family budgets and free school meals are not available.

In a strongly worded report about the “major social evil”, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger said the lack of school meals in holiday time can add £40 a week to family food bills. It said school staff notice children coming back for the new term hungry and sluggish.

And it means pupils from poorer families can be left behind their better-off peers academically, the group said.

They urged the government to ring-fence 10 per cent of the sugar tax – to be introduced next year – to ensure children are fed properly during the holidays. This could cost just £1.50 per child per day.

It would mean that councils would each be given £100,000 for schemes providing “free meals and fun”.

Group chair, Labour MP Frank Field, spoke of the “horror of hunger” for some children, and hailed “heroic efforts” by local activists to combat it.

But he said government had to step in to help stamp it out, adding: “Abolishing hunger during school holidays is beyond the ability of individual community groups and volunteers alone.”

Simon Shaw, food poverty campaign co-ordinator at the food and farming alliance Sustain said: “As we said in our submission to the inquiry, the school holidays can be times of great difficulty for families with children experiencing hunger, social isolation and learning loss.

“The proposed allocation of funding from the sugary drinks levy would be a positive first step to funding a nationwide programme of holiday food provision. We agree that local authorities can play a vital role in coordinating provision; central government must provide adequate funding to allow local authorities to deliver on this.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rishi Sunak is celebrating UK's inflation fall – there's just several problems
Inflation

Rishi Sunak is celebrating UK's inflation fall – there's just several problems

Liz Truss blames the 'deep state' and the 'establishment' for her downfall. Here's why she's wrong
liz truss
Politics

Liz Truss blames the 'deep state' and the 'establishment' for her downfall. Here's why she's wrong

'Consign it to history': Sadiq Khan pledges to end rough sleeping in London by 2030
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is calling for more support for renters
Rough Sleeping

'Consign it to history': Sadiq Khan pledges to end rough sleeping in London by 2030

Sunak and top Tories keeping seats over voter ID confusion would be 'damaging to democracy'
Democracy

Sunak and top Tories keeping seats over voter ID confusion would be 'damaging to democracy'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know