The leader of Southwark announced on Wednesday (October 22) that the council would pay for free school meals in the borough over the half term.  

It comes after the Government rejected a Labour motion to extend free school meals over school holidays. 

If passed, it would have provided 1.4m disadvantaged children in England with £15-a-week food vouchers during holidays until Easter 2021. 

According to the Government, it is helping low-income families through the welfare system, through raising Universal Credit by £20 a week, and adjusting housing benefit.   

But the decision, voted down by 322 to 261, has been widely criticised. 

Announcing the news on Twitter, leader Councillor Kieron Williams said: “Delighted to say Southwark Council will fund free school meals this half term. 

“It’s the decision the Government should have made yesterday, since they’ve failed we’re stepping in today to help end child food poverty.

“We’ve just written to all schools with full details.” 

Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United player campaigning for free school meals to be given to children during holidays, retweeted Cllr Williams’ announcement. 

The footballer, who received an MBE for his efforts to end child poverty, was successful in lobbying the Government for food vouchers during summer.

Many Southwark residents commenting said they were “proud” of the borough.  

“Southwark resident here, and delighted to see our council taking what is clearly, obviously, the morally right thing,” one said.  

Another asked: “Is there a way that local residents can make donations towards this? 

“I’m already a council taxpayer in Southwark, but I’m aware your funds are thinly-enough stretched as it is.”