REDDITCH MP Rachel Maclean has explained why she voted against a motion to extend free school meals outside term time following criticism.

On Wednesday evening (October 21), Mrs Maclean was one of 322 MPs who voted to reject the motion - which called for free school meals to be offered over the holidays until Easter 2021 - against 261 votes.

On Facebook, the Redditch Labour Party group called the result a "total disgrace" and said it's a "travesty that the Tories won't listen and put their own positions before our children."

In a statement following the vote, Mrs Maclean said: "Contrary to what some people have been saying, I have not voted to take free school meals from children.

"Supporting vulnerable children, families and individuals has been at the heart of all I have done at this challenging time.

"Parliament voted on a Labour motion to extend the provision of free school meals outside term time for the rest of this year. This was an Opposition Day Motion – it was not something that was legislation or in any way legally binding.

"There is no debate about the importance of supporting families during this time. This debate is not about whether or not to support families but how and what mechanisms should be used to do so.

"The actions we took at the start of the pandemic reflected the extraordinary circumstances we found ourselves in – where the lines between education and home were blurred. Schools provided meals for eligible pupils whilst they learnt from home and so rightly, the Government temporarily extended Free School Meals over the school holidays.

"While schools were restricted from opening to all pupils, additional support was given to families in recognition of the unprecedented levels of disruption and uncertainty for schools during this time.

"But we are now in a different position with schools back open to all pupils. Provision for free school meals is ordinarily term time only and there is no requirement for schools to continue this provision during school holidays.

"I of course recognise this is a challenging time for families across the country which is why the Government has also temporarily extended free school meal eligibly to include children from families who have no recourse to public funds and have a maximum household income of £28,200 for areas outside of London.

"We have also increased the Local Housing Allowance and created a £180 million fund to help struggling families with their rent.

"This Government will continue to provide a safety net for those who need it. This includes £63 million in funding for councils to provide emergency assistance to families with food, essentials and meals and this support is available to families in Redditch."