RISHI Sunak and Gavin Williamson are caught up in a furious row over free schools meals after claims there was “no funding requested” for extra help over the winter.
Allies of the Chancellor slapped down suggestions Mr Sunak was blocking attempts to extend the free meals over the half-term holidays, and instead pointed the finger at the Education Secretary.
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Over the weekend worried MPs started fretting over losing support in Northern constituencies after Marcus Rashford’s campaign to extend free school meals won the backing of 100 councils, restaurants and more than 760,000 people who signed a petition.
And a Cabinet minister foisted the blame onto Downing Street said: “No 10 and Treasury policy advisers are standing firm.
“But they don’t have to go back to face angry voters in their constituencies every weekend.”
But allies of Mr Sunak tore into suggestions it was the Treasury blocking the funding, saying it was Gavin Williamson who had failed to even ask for the extra cash to help keep hungry kids’ bellies full.
Treasury sources told The Times Mr Williamson was the one who hadn’t even asked for any money from the Treasury for the £150million to provide meals for 1.4 million poverty-stricken kids over the half-term holiday.
They suggested Mr Sunak was annoyed over the suggestions the Treasury was to blame.
They said: “Gavin has not made any noises about wanting to extend free school meals for another school holiday.
“The Department for Education has not put in a proposal.”
In an attempt to climbdown from the policy on free school meals without an embarrassing U-turn, Boris Johnson yesterday vowed that “no child would go hungry”.
And the PM is expected to boost holiday clubs for kids to appease the high-profile demands to extend the policy.
He said: “I will repeat my most important point – we don’t want to see children going hungry this winter, this Christmas, certainly not, as a result of any inattention by this Government.”
Footie star Rashford has led a huge campaign to try and get more help for hungry kids.
And after the motion was voted down he took to Twitter to share inspirational businesses who were providing free meals to kids this half term.
Councils across the country said they would front up the cash to extend free school meals in their area.
But Mr Johnson’s claims councils were being given extra cash fell flat as many councils are understood to have spent most of the £63 million allocation of funds.
The money was given on July 10 and Government guidance at the time said it expected “most of the funding would be spent within 12 weeks”.
Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi dismissed a growing rift between Mr Sunak and Mr Williamson, telling Sky News: “There is absolutely lockstep between the Chancellor and the Education Secretary and the Prime Minister and this Government to make sure we target funding to those families that need it.”
And he said the Government could “learn from” holiday clubs and food programmes to help keep kids well-fed.
He told Sky News: “These are incredibly important pilots, and we will look at how we can learn from those and how we can build on this.
“The best way to do it – as the Prime Minister quite rightly outlined – is through local government, 17 local authorities participated in that pilot, and of course through the actual welfare system, the Universal Credit system, delivering that additional help for those families.”
The Sun has contacted the Department for Education for comment.
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