Everyone Is Signing This Petition To Stop The Use Of Public Money On MPs Meals

Take our kids free school meals away? We’ll take your 'rosemary salt baked squash panna cotta' too then, shall we?

Members dining room at the house of commons

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

A petition has been started to end the use of public money on providing subsidised food and drinks for MPs. It comes in response to the MP vote on free school meals this week, which saw 322 MPs allow 1.4million children to go hungry over the school holidays.

The 38Degrees petition, called ‘No public money for MPs' meals’ calls for ‘an end to the practice of paying expenses to MPs for food and drink’ and that ‘any and all food and drink in parliamentary establishments be chargeable to MPs at market rates.’

Started by sewing designer and blogger Portia Lawrie, the petition gathered over 120,000 signatures in 16 hours. Shared by former Coronation Street actor Angela Griffin, the campaign already seems to be getting some love from British celebrities including the one and only Les Dennis.

Why? Because after days of intense and exhaustive debate around the conservative government’s choice to let vulnerable children go hungry this winter, people are looking for retribution against the MPs that not only claim expenses for their meals but just accepted pay rises of £3000 while the rest of the country is hit by the fastest and deepest economic shock in history.

While they take their pay rises and claim back up to £25 per night for food expenses (if they stay overnight outside of their constituency and the London area), Tory MPs are telling children scared they’ll go hungry over October half-term that they’re not valuable enough to feed. In comparison, by the way, free school meals vouchers are only £15 per week and cost the government £20million per week – which if extended for the school breaks until Easter 2021 (which the Labour party called for) would cost a total of £60, or just over 10% what the government spent on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

If the public purse cannot afford to feed the poorest in our society, why are we feeding those least in need?

‘MPs have voted against extending free school meals into the holidays for the poorest children in the UK, in the middle of a pandemic,’ Portia wrote on the petition website. ‘They should under no circumstances benefit from subsidised meals out of public funds themselves. If the public purse cannot afford to feed the poorest in our society, why are we feeding those least in need? Already well paid public servants, set to receive yet another generous pay increase, whilst millions face hardship, job losses and poverty, do not need the public to pay for their food and drink. Public funds should be spent on those most in need of them.’

The petition also comes as screengrabs of the subsidised menu in the Members Dining Room in parliament went viral on social media. For Portia, seeing the way MPs claim back expenses for food like this but can still deny basic nutrition to the UK's most vulnerable children was too much to bear.

'Hypocrisy and double standards have been a hallmark of this governments response,' she told Grazia. 'It's one rule for "them" and another for the rest. I started the petition to confront the disgusting hypocrisy of demonising the ordinary, often working poor families for needing assistance during a global pandemic whilst simultaneously dipping into the public purse for their own food and drink. Eating in the luxury of parliamentary dining rooms and drinking in parliamentary bars subsidised by public money whilst families are forced to resort to food banks.

'These politicians exploit the image of the vulnerable starving child when it's useful to their political aims of reopening schools seem perfectly happy to abandon the children they were so concerned about when it was useful to be so,' she continued. ' They can't have it both ways. Either we can afford to feed people or we can't. If we can only afford to feed some people, it really shouldn't be already well paid public servants instead of children in financially struggling families.'

And with such a huge response to quickly, it seems many agree with her.

'The reaction has been unexpected but reassuring that the UK hasn't lost its soul or sense of fairness,' says Portia. 'It's easy to feel crushed by the current vile rhetoric that seems to get airtime and column inches these days and lose faith with the decency of people. The response to this has really lifted my spirits that people in the uk still care about fairness and social justice. I had started to doubt that lately.'

Want to sign yourself? Click here.

Scroll for more ways to help tackle child food poverty in the UK...


Ways To Help End Food Poverty UK - Grazia

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Help out FareShare

A charity Marcus Rashford is ambassador for, FareShare redistributes surplus food to charities that turn it into meals. You don't just have to donate, you can also volunteer your time to help them too.

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Write to your MP

You don't just have to donate money, writing to your MP to ask what they are doing about food hunger is just as important. If your MP voted against extended free school meals, you're more than entitled to ask why and express your anger as a constituent they represent. WriteToThem makes this process easier than ever, simply type in your postcode to find your MP and you'll be met with every elected representative responsible for your area. Simply find your MP, click their name and you'll be directed to a form where you can write whatever you choose to your MP. Your taxes pay their salaries, your votes keep them in or out of office, you deserve to express your voice in how they represent you.

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The Trussel Trust

Just like FareShare, the UK's leading food hunger charity the Trussell Trust need more than just donations. Check out their 'ways to give' and 'volunteer' pages to see all the ways you can help them end food hunger.

Read More:

After 322 MPs Voted To Let More Than One Million Children Go Hungry, Everyone Should Read Marcus Rashford’s Emotional Words On Food Poverty

Stop Telling People 'You Shouldn’t Have Kids If You Can’t Afford To Feed Them'

Free School Meals: From How Your MP Voted To Ways To Help End Food Poverty, Here's Everything You Need To Know

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