WORCESTER MP Robin Walker made a £65 expenses claim for a handbook on child poverty last year. Mr Walker said the Child Poverty Action Group handbook was bought by a former caseworker as a one-off who needed it to help make referrals to the right organisations.

The city’s MP was among hundreds of Conservatives who voted against a motion backing footballer Marcus Rashford’s petition to end child food poverty last Wednesday (October 21). “It was actually something that a previous caseworker ordered because she wanted to get some training on how to make referrals for cases where we thought people were at risk,” he said.

“We ordered that as a training resource and handbook. It’s to help the team make sure they know the right organisations to go to. We haven’t ordered it again this year because we already have one and we don’t feel need to subscribe to it annually.”

Expense records show the city’s MP made a successful £65 claim for the handbook last June. Manchester United forward Mr Rashford’s petition to end child food poverty lead to a motion put down by Labour that was defeated by 322 votes to 261.

The decision was widely criticised with businesses across the country coming forward to say they would offer free half-term food to deprived youngsters.

Mr Walker said child poverty was an issue he was taking seriously and the way he voted had been misrepresented. “I think the vote on Wednesday was how we help not whether we help,” he said. “We are definitely going to make sure that there is support for the most vulnerable people and the debate was about whether the best to do that was through free school meals or through the welfare system. The motion I voted for was providing extra support through the welfare system. I think there is an extent to which this has been misrepresented in some circles by people saying that because we didn’t vote to provide free school meals, we were voting to do nothing. What we were actually saying is that there are more effective ways to help people. It is definitely an issue which I take seriously and I do want to make sure people do get help.”

Justifying his vote last week, Mr Walker accused Labour of making party political points rather than serving the needs of children and defended the Government’s attempts to tackle child poverty.

“This is a classic opposition trick," the city MP said. “You put forward a motion you know criticises the government and suggests something positive to do, and when the government votes against you attack them.

“They then use it to suggest Tory MPs don’t want children to eat. We have actually done more than any government in history to provide not only free schools meals but activities during the summer holidays. We voted against because we disagreed with the criticism inherent in the motion.

“Labour are using this cynically. It [the motion] criticised the government, if you voted for it therefore you criticised your own record.

“Marcus Rashford’s was a successful campaign to make sure free school meals were provided during the summer holidays and they were, and Marcus Rashford received an MBE as a result of that. He deserves credit. Unfortunately, this motion was more about party political point scoring than about serving the needs of children."