At the Budget Meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 22 February, Liberal Democrats on Hertfordshire County Council proposed that £4.2m of the unplanned extra £6.2m received from Council Tax collection should be spent to fund free school meals during the school holidays for children of the recipients of Universal Credit. The Liberal Democrats argued that the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis had impacted most on the poorest in society and that this expected windfall should go towards funding those most in need and ensuring children do not go without a meal during the school holidays.
Opposition Spokesperson for Education and Children, Liberal Democrat Councillor Mark Watkin, said, "I am hugely disappointed that the Conservatives have failed to support those most in need of help by funding Free School Meals for the poorest children in our communities when their parents are facing the worst cost of living crisis for 30 years. It is easily affordable given the unplanned extra funds are just being put into reserves and hugely disadvantages Hertfordshire children when it is being funded in other county areas such as neighbouring Cambridgeshire. Parents simply shouldn't have to choose between 'heat' or 'eat'."