Our stories Magic Blog What will the new Conservative Government mean for children at risk of hunger? 19th December, 2019 As new MPs gleefully catch the train to London and the machinery of Government prepares to churn at full speed once again, Magic Breakfast considers what the new landscape means for the 1.8 million school age children at risk of hunger each morning. Manifestos and beyond The election campaigning period was marked by headline grabbing announcements of increased spending on public services, from all parties. The Conservative manifesto recognised that ‘children should grow up in an environment with no limits to their potential’ and under this banner committed to maintaining current commitments to free school meals. While school breakfasts were not explicitly mentioned, we hope and anticipate that continued support for the National School Breakfast Programme, established by the Conservative Government in March 2018, will follow along the same lines. On the eve of the election we were encouraged to see the Prime Minister say in the Evening Standard ‘If we are returned with a majority, I pledge to London… we will provide more money for every pupil in London and more breakfast clubs… to help working families’. Boris Johnson was a strong advocate for school breakfasts during his time as Mayor of London, funding Magic Breakfast to reach an additional 2,400 children in London and saying, ‘A nutritious breakfast is the best way to prepare our kids for a day of school’. New MPs Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority now includes MPs representing constituencies the Conservatives haven’t held in decades. This includes constituencies like Blackpool South, a seat that the Conservatives haven’t held since 1997, where the level of child poverty is nearly 40% and Northwest Durham, a seat not held by the Conservatives since 1950, where the level of child poverty is 35%. Many schools in these new Conservative constituencies receive food aid support from Magic Breakfast, in some cases via the Department for Education funded National School Breakfast Programme. Top of the list for these new MPs will be to repay the trust placed in them by their new constituents. They will be keen to deliver on the promises that the Prime Minister has made to level up opportunities across the country, prioritise working families, and ensure that every child has the chance to be a success. Supporting a commitment to school breakfasts will be a key opportunity make these promises a reality. Brexit With such a healthy majority, Prime Minister Johnson will be likely to proceed quickly and ‘get Brexit done’ in time for the UK to leave the EU on the 31st of January. Though there are likely to be bumps and turns in the road ahead as the UK negotiates a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, the path to passing the Withdrawal Bill is likely to be short and swift. The gridlock that has prevented Parliamentarians, and indeed the civil service, from making progress in other areas should now begin to clear. This must lead to renewed focus on solutions to the pressing social issues facing this country that Magic Breakfast encounters every day. Across the country one in three children is living in poverty, one in six children is living in food insecurity and the attainment gap between children from the wealthiest backgrounds and poorest backgrounds is widening. Magic Breakfast will continue to work with all political parties to ensure no child starts the day too hungry to learn. Before, and during, the election, we called on the Government to commit to school breakfast legislation, bringing the commitment to school breakfasts up to par with the commitment to school lunches. As the Government announces its legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech on Thursday, we’ll be watching closely for further commitments that will benefit children at risk of hunger and signs that this Government is serious about delivering for working families. Alysa Remtulla is Head of Policy and Campaigns at Magic Breakfast.