"The time to be having an ideological debate about the role of the state in feeding children or the merits of the benefits system is not the middle of a pandemic where people are losing their jobs or seeing wages and income drastically reduced through no fault of their own.
"I think back to my first speech as Leader last December when I said, 'We will always be there for our most vulnerable residents and make sure those that need us the most are never left behind.' Of course, I could not then have predicted the events of the ensuing months where that commitment has certainly been put to the test.
"HDC has repeatedly stepped up throughout the pandemic to offer help and support to Huntingdonshire residents when they have needed it. Although HDC has not been given any money by the government to support free school meals (because we’re not the education authority), we will step up once again and make sure that no child in need in our district has to go without a meal.
"Food, essential supplies and support for residents in need has been available from HDC since the beginning of the pandemic and will continue to be. I will make sure that we commit as much resource as it takes to ensure that no child goes hungry and no parent has to worry about where their child’s next meal will come from."
When the pandemic hit, we set up a dedicated advice and information portal for residents as a trusted source of information and advice. This has been expanded and is continuously updated to provide advice and sources of help on a wide range of issues that may be affecting people. Already the portal has ensured that people who found themselves in a variety of difficult situations, whether that be financial issues, needing food or at risk of unemployment, have been able to get the help that they need. We continue to work incredibly closely with a large number of community groups and organisations who themselves can access financial support from us through our Community Chest Grants.
We are here to offer a helping hand to our communities when they have nowhere else to turn, whether that is in the form of a food parcel or a listening ear, but ultimately we would welcome the opportunity to work with residents to identify the root cause of their situation and where possible support them to find long term and sustainable solutions.