Marcus Rashford planning next steps to help struggling families
Euro News

Marcus Rashford planning next steps to help struggling families

Marcus Rashford has said he is planning more steps to help struggling families after his campaign to extend the children’s food voucher scheme into the summer holidays sparked a Government U-turn.

The 22-year-old Manchester United star was praised by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his highly personal campaign, which forced the change in policy.

England striker Rashford told BBC Breakfast he was “shocked” by the decision. He said: “It’s a big decision for someone to make and I’m just grateful that the Prime Minister did change his decision and he understood.

“I spoke to him and thanked him for that. It’s a nice feeling but I’m just happy that people’s lives, and people’s summers especially, have been changed for the better.”

But the footballer said that people are “struggling all year round” and he now wants to learn “how we can help them best” in the future.

“I think this is only going to be successful throughout the summer period so we’ve bought ourselves six weeks of time now to plan and figure out what’s next and keep taking steps forward,” said Rashford.

“I don’t want this to be the end of it because there are definitely more steps that need to be taken. So we just need to analyse the response.”

Rashford penned an open letter on Monday asking the Government to reverse its decision not to award free school meals vouchers to vulnerable children outside term time.

A Department for Education spokesman said later that day that the national voucher scheme was not being extended.

But, amid mounting pressure, Number 10 said on Tuesday that the Government would provide a Covid Summer Food Fund to reflect the fact that families face an “unprecedented situation” over the holidays.

Mr Johnson congratulated Rashford on the campaign, saying the policy change was the “right thing to do”.

The Prime Minister told the daily Downing Street briefing: “Clearly free school meals should generally apply in term time, that’s what they are there for.

“But we have to understand the pressures families are under right now and that’s why we’ve responded as we have. As I say, I think it is the right thing to do and it will help the kids from the families who really need it.”

It is understood that payment will be in the form of a one-off six-week voucher given to eligible families at the end of term to use in supermarkets.

The vouchers will amount to £15 a week per child and some 1.3 million children in England will be eligible, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he may have had “Harry Potter on the mind” when he mistakenly praised “Daniel Rashford”.

Denying that the Government made an embarrassing U-turn on the subject, Mr Hancock told Sky News on Wednesday morning: “Righty-ho, I will tell you what happened, the Prime Minister talked to Daniel Rashford, he considered it and made his decision – I think it’s terrific.”

The minister later told radio station LBC that his child’s fondness for the JK Rowling novels may have been to blame and “maybe I had Harry Potter on the mind”.

Harry Potter was played by Daniel Radcliffe in the movie adaptions of the popular books.

Mr Hancock added: “My seven-year-old listens to Harry Potter and reads Harry Potter avidly, including at 5.30 this morning when I got up to do this morning’s media round.”

The Health Secretary later declined to apologise to footballers over his past call for them to “play their part” in the coronavirus response, and said he was “really proud” of Rashford.

When asked by Radio 4’s Today programme whether he owed the star and others an apology Mr Hancock said: “I think he’s been absolutely brilliant and I think he absolutely has played his part.

“I owe him thanks.”

England star Rashford, 22, appeared to joke about the error, responding on Twitter: “I’ve been called much worse over the last couple of days.”

Mr Hancock later tweeted in response: “Too early. But in all seriousness Marcus you’re a credit to the nation.”

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Nicole Benitez
Nicole Benitez is the author of our Euro News section. As the world awakens to a new dawn idea, a lot of fake news and misconceptions are communicated to the public when there is no need! For all our clarifications and Europe related policy decisions, Nicole is who we rely on. Her eloquence when debating issues plaguing Europe will leave you starstruck!

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