MUCH-NEEDED meal vouchers for struggling families will only be provided for the first two weeks of the summer school holiday.

Changes to the terms of emergency government funding designed to help those most in need pay for food and energy bills means less money can be spent exclusively on children throughout the summer by the council.

Another £3.95 million has been promised to the county by the government to be used between now and the end of September on helping those most in need, but the latest round of funding has come with the stipulation that at least one-third of the money has to be spent on pensioners - meaning a cut to the amount available solely to struggling families and their children.

As a result, Worcestershire County Council said it would only be providing meal vouchers for the first two weeks of the school summer holiday.

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Cllr Lynn Denham said the cut was worrying given the number of children in the city in food poverty.

“It's very concerning that the government support for children will no longer cover the long school summer holidays even for those who are eligible for free school meals,” she said.

“This was the campaign we fought for alongside Marcus Rushford and now kids are going hungry again.

“17 per cent of children in Worcester are in food poverty.”

Cabinet papers show that £1 million will be spent on providing the 15,000 children and young people in Worcestershire with free meals during the summer holiday – but only for the first fortnight.

On top of that, just over £1 million will be used to help hard-up pensioners and another million pounds will be used to help those struggling with energy costs.

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A spokesperson for the council said: “Meal vouchers for school holiday periods are funded by the Household Support Fund which is a grant allocated by central government. Whilst the grant has been extended, the criteria for use has been changed by government to include more general help and support for wider groups of the population in support of the increased cost of living.

“Worcestershire provided support during this year’s Easter holiday, within the revised criteria, we will provide free school meals to eligible children for two weeks of the summer holidays.

“In addition, our Holiday Activity and Food programme is set to return providing eligible children and families with free access to food and activities during the holiday period.

“We have also requested that schools support us in directing families that are struggling financially to the resources of Here2Help and Ready Steady Worcestershire.”

The council’s cabinet meets at County Hall from 10am on Friday (July 1).