MID Worcestershire's MP has been explaining his decision to vote down a motion to extend free school meals for kids in England over the holidays, saying they were never meant to be a "general welfare measure".

Nigel Huddleston, who along with the other county MPs Harriett Baldwin and Robin Walker, voted with the government on the Labour motion that was defeated by 322 votes to 261 on Wednesday.

England footballer Marcus Rashford, who has led a high profile campaign on the issue that secured a government U-turn in the summer holidays, has vowed to keep campaigning and told politicians to “stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers”.

Mr Huddleston said: "I applaud the work Marcus Rashford has done to highlight the issue of food poverty and I want to assure constituents that we all want to make sure that children and families do not go hungry during this pandemic.

"Earlier in the year an additional £63 million was allocated to local authorities (including £595,000 for Worcestershire) to support groups who were helping people who were struggling to afford food and other essentials due to Covid-19.

"The funding was allocated for a 12 week period of peak lockdown. It was a temporary measure.

"However we are now in a different position and our schools are now back open to all pupils and more people are back at work.

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"Free school meals are not - and were never intended to be - a general welfare measure.

"The best way we can support families throughout the year is through Universal Credit and through the unprecedented support that this government has set up in this health crisis, rather than subsidising meals for families in their own homes.”

Meanwhile Lynn Denham, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Worcester in last year's general election, had hit back after city MP Robin Walker said Labour had been "playing politics" with the issue.

Mr Walker said on Thursday the motion was drafted by Labour as one no government member could support, and was about "party political point scoring than about serving the needs of children.”

Mrs Denham said: "I'm appalled they voted against. Have the MPs not read Charles Dickens?

"They can't justify it.

"It is in fact the government playing politics.

"When you see what people have said following the vote, I don't think our MP was really representing the people of Worcester when he voted for children to go hungry at Christmas."