A Conservative MP who is the husband of NHS Test and Trace boss Dido Harding has been criticised after claiming ‘chaotic parents’ are to blame for sending their children to school hungry. John Penrose, a former minister, made the remark in a letter to a constituent as he defended voting against extending the free school meals programme. Mr Penrose argued the root causes of poverty should be focused on as the Government faces growing public anger after refusing to extend the meals to cover future school holidays. Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford is leading a campaign to offer more help to struggling families but Mr Penrose criticised ‘sticking plaster’ solutions that ‘increase dependency’ on state support. The backbencher, who has two children, added: ‘Practical measures which make a genuine difference to the causes of poverty include things like the Pupil Premium, which gives schools extra funding for disadvantaged pupils; breakfast clubs, which help children with chaotic parents who send them to school without breakfast so they can’t concentrate properly.’ Labour immediately pounced on the remarks, first published by The Mirror, as shadow education secretary Kate Green said it was ‘completely unacceptable’ to ‘blame parents for the challenges created by his… Read full this story
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