6 November 2020
Congratulations and thanks to Marcus Rashford for so brilliantly - and importantly – raising the country’s awareness about food poverty; to Islington Council for stepping in to provide free school meals over half-term when the government failed so pitifully to respond to the need; and to the wonderful local businesses and community groups here who stepped in to fill the gap before the council measures kicked in.
All being well, with enough public pressure, the government will see sense and change its mind before the Christmas holidays, even if we can hopefully rely on the council’s commitment to act here if they don’t. But with many households’ incomes suffering from the pandemic restrictions, winter fast approaching, and more people forced to spend more time in their homes during lockdown, we need to remember fuel poverty as well as food poverty. 10% or more of Islington households were thought to be in fuel poverty before the pandemic hit and that is likely to be significantly higher now. Cold homes increase the risks to occupants’ health, both physical and mental – risks that are already higher this year because of Covid. Both government and the council need to think what they can do to help people stay warm this winter. No child should go hungry but no parent should have to choose between heating and eating.