The UK government’s pledge to give more resources to help disadvantaged school kids during the COVID-19 pandemic has received an angry backlash from critics who say students are suffering because of the Tories’ self-imposed cuts.
During the government’s daily COVID-19 briefing – led by cabinet office minister Michael Gove – on Sunday, it was revealed that vulnerable and disadvantaged young people would receive laptops and tablets to borrow, to help them carry on their school learning from home. Gove boasted that schools would continue to receive additional funding “worth around £2.4 billion annually.”
The UK government’s presentation of these new measures as some kind of generous offering to British school children – to show that they really do care about the less fortunate – has not been well-received by many on social media.
Many commenters pointed to ten years of public sector cuts that hit schools and higher education institutes badly. A report published by the UK Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) in September showed between 2010–2019 schools and colleges in England suffered the worst fall in spending since the 1970s.
One person on Twitter slammed PM Boris Johnson’s administration for essentially treating children’s education as some sort of disturbing game, tweeting: “You severely cut spending in schools for @networkautism and now ‘you’re helping.’ It’s like political child abuse.”
Others suggested the government was causing trauma for young people particularly with their handling of exam year students who have had their academic year turned upside down at a time they should be preparing for life at university.
Some roasted the government for not being upfront to say these financial resources for school kids were coming from “taxpayers’ money.”
It comes following a report by London-based NGO the Food Foundation which found that almost a fifth of British households with children have been unable to obtain enough food in the past five weeks.
The report also highlighted that some groups are finding it particularly difficult, with 30 percent of lone parents and 46 percent of parents with a disabled child experiencing problems in getting food.
Poorer families used to rely on free breakfast clubs and school lunches but have now lost access to them as schools remain closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation has been exacerbated by many losing jobs and income due to the nationwide lockdown.