CONOR McGinn MP said St Helens Council have “stepped up to the mark” to after the Government rejected plans to fund free school meals.

Labour councils across the Liverpool City Region have declared today they will “not allow children to go hungry” during the upcoming half-term break.

It comes after MPs rejected a Labour motion to offer free school meals during holidays until Easter 2021.

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More than 1,300 people in St Helens’ two constituencies had signed a petition to end child food poverty ahead of the parliamentary vote.

Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford launched the campaign last week, which led to Labour forcing a Commons vote on whether to extend the free school meals offer.

This afternoon, St Helens Borough Council announced that it would provide vouchers to the value of £12 a week per child.

St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, who voted in favour of the Labour motion in Parliament, said he is “proud” the Labour-run council has stepped up.

Mr McGinn said: “When many local families are facing so much hardship, this is the right and only thing to do.

“In Parliament this week, St Helens Borough’s two Labour MPs voted to extend free school meals during the holidays, but the Conservative Government refused to support those children most in need here in our community and across the country.

“I’m really proud that Labour-run St Helens Council has stepped up to the mark and into the breach.

“It underlines just how important it is to have politicians and an administration locally that puts our people first, especially when we know the Government in London doesn’t have our backs and doesn’t care.”

After Tory MPs shut down plans to extend free school meals, business across St Helens came out in force to offer support for hard-up families.

Toast 2 Roast in Moss Bank, and Riddling Jack in Newton-le-Willows even got a shout-out by Rashford.

Momo’s Café and The Daily Grind in St Helens have also offered to feed children from low-income families over October half-term.

Sarah McDonagh, development and quality manager at The Hope Centre, which runs St Helens Foodbank, said the response has been “heart-warming”.

She said: “The response across the borough has been amazing, once again St Helens have again seen a need and stepped up to meet it.

“Marcus has been a beacon of hope and the ripple effect of businesses reaching out is so heart-warming.

“The Hope Centre regularly supports families whose children access free school meals with a nutritious meal with its Make Lunch project, and will again be supporting those who need this support.”