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The 'national scandal' behind Salford council's plan to give food vouchers to children

Salford's mayor said child poverty is a "national scandal" as the council extended a plan to give food vouchers to children during school holidays.

The comments came after a report revealed a 'substantial' increase in the number of children in Salford who are eligible to claim free school meals.

Nearly 16,000 children in the city were eligible for free school meals at the end of April 2024, as a growing number of families find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

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Across the city, 24 percent of children were eligible for free school meals in 2019, a figure which has now increased to 35pc.

The council expects this 'to continue to increase' in future.

To support struggling families, the town hall today approved a plan to provide £15 per week food vouchers to eligible children during school holidays.

This will be covered from a £2.7 million pot of cash given to the council from the government's Household Support Fund (HSF), which will last until September 2024.

The town hall has also committed to investing £2.7m towards its work supporting vulnerable households, giving a combined total of £5.4m.

The HSF was due to end in March when the government announced it would be extended for a further six months.

Salford Mayor Paul Dennett told the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the time that children in the city would go hungry without it.

Mr Dennett called the situation a "national crisis" after Salford councillors approved the continuation of the food vouchers.

While the City Mayor welcomed the plan, he said work needs to be done at a national level to tackle the drivers of poverty.

He added: "This is a national scandal and everything we can do