But at the core of his campaign was a demand for free school meals to be given to any child in a family which receives Universal Credit, a crucial support mechanism for some of the most desperate children which has been left out of the newly announced measures.
Rashford said he had “a good conversation” with Prime Minister Boris Johnson “to better understand the plan” after the 23-year-old’s Manchester United side beat Everton 3-1 on Saturday.
While he welcomed the announcement, Rashford, who received an MBE after forcing a government U-turn over free school meals in the summer, said his “immediate concern is the approximate 1.7 million children who miss out on free school meals, holiday provision and Healthy Start vouchers because their family income isn’t quite low enough.”
Children in families on Universal Credit are not allowed free school meals if their household income is more than £7,400 per year.
More than 1.1 million people signed a petition put forward by Rashford’s campaign to extend the free school meals programme into the recent half-term holiday but it was voted down in Parliament.
Over 1,000 businesses and organisations across the country stepped in to fill the void, preparing meals for children and families to collect from their premises in a week of community action.
Rashford continued: “Seeing the role everyone has played in supporting our most vulnerable children has been the greatest moment of my life. I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding.
“I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it, because in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom. I don’t want any child to go through what I went through, and any parent to experience what my mother experienced.”
The new lockdown measures in England have seen Chancellor Rishi Sunak once more dig deep into the nation’s coffers to support those who are struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The furlough scheme and mortgage payment holidays have both been extended until March 2021 and on Thursday Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced £15m to support rough sleepers for a month over December.
But campaigners are calling for more to help those experiencing homelessness as well as a new evictions ban to protect tenants and expanded support for children and families.
Coffey said: “We know this has been a challenging time for many and we have consistently supported the lowest-paid families, protecting 9 million jobs with furlough and boosting welfare support by £9.3 billion.
“This package builds on that support and by extending our successful Holiday Activities and Food programme as well as funding a £170 million Covid Winter Grant Scheme we are making sure families get the help they need.”
Rashford added: “Today, I’m overwhelmed with pride that we have made such significant progress… I’m going to bed thankful tonight but under no illusion that there is still a lot more work to be done.”
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