Anger aimed at Thanet MP as motion to extend free school meals into the holidays is rejected by government

Sharon at an award ceremony for her work to tackle food poverty, watched by Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has been slammed as a ‘hypocrite’ by Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet boss Sharon Goodyer following the voting down of a Labour motion to provide free school meals during the holidays.

The motion – which called for the meals to be offered over school breaks until Easter 2021 –yesterday (October 21)  fell by 322 votes to 261.

Sharon, who has headed up three Summer Kitchen schemes providing free meals to families in need during the holidays with support from county councillors Barry Lewis and Karen Constantine, said she feels ‘betrayed’ by Craig Mackinlay’s vote against the motion.

Mr Mackinlay has responded to say it is ‘untrue’ to say he has voted against free school meals and branded the motion as ‘political gameplaying.’ He said an amended motion, which he supported, outlined the help government is already giving to families in need.

Sharon, pictured at the Summer Kitchen, Photo David Stillman

Sharon said: “I feel so betrayed. We were in Parliament together a year or so ago collecting an award for the Our Kitchen work and when I received the Prime Minster’s Point of Light for our work with families during the pandemic Craig sent me a lovely card and said how he thought the work was so valuable. What a hypocrite, it is the definition of hypocrisy to say one thing and then do another.

“He has let down Thanet children. The government will say they put enough money into the system for families through benefits but we have an 11% and rising unemployment rate, generations of struggle and, since February, and increasing level of hardship for families. There is only so much these young families can take.”

Inside Our Shop Photo Caroline Dyal

Sharon and volunteers now run Our Shop in Margate which is a food club offering low priced, healthy food and teaches nutrition and cooking skills.

She said: “I have 200 families signed up and that isn’t even touching the sides. This has been supported by district council, county council, Sustain and the lottery, we are all pulling together but the government has let us down.”

The motion for free ‘school’ meals during holiday periods followed pressure from footballer Marcus Rashford, for Government to support vulnerable children.

According to the Food Foundation more than 1.4 million children experience food insecurity during the holidays and 6.3 percent of children are worried about going hungry during the upcoming October half-term.

Craig Mackinlay

Mr Mackinlay said: “To suggest that I voted against free school meals… is untrue. The original motion, put by Labour as part of their regular ‘Opposition Day debate’ opportunities, are an entrenched feature of our Parliamentary system and are designed to be purely political and often follow the ‘mother and apple pie’ formula of looking so reasonable that they couldn’t possibly be opposed.

“Such motions, even if carried, have no statutory basis and don’t become new law; it is the role of government to bring to Parliament new law and spending plans which Parliament can then consider soberly. Such Opposition Day motions are never supported by whichever governing party. This is all part of the weft and weave of our system.

“The motion put by Labour was amended (as is commonplace) with the consent of the House of Commons to the following and was carried, including my vote:

“That this House notes that schools are now fully operational following the covid-19 outbreak, and will continue to offer free school meals in term time; welcomes the substantial support provided by the Government to children worth £550 million annually; further welcomes that this support has been bolstered by almost £53 billion worth of income protection schemes, and £9.3 billion of additional welfare payments; notes that eligible families have also been supported throughout lockdown through the receipt of meal vouchers worth £380 million while schools were partially closed, alongside the Holiday Activities and Food Fund; and further supports the Government in its ongoing activities to help the most vulnerable children in society.”

“We can obviously have a debate about the extent to which government should spend across the nation on the essentials of life but we do have an advanced, detailed and comprehensive system of benefits and support even outside of Covid problems.

“Indeed the UK has offered more funding across job and business supporting schemes, to councils, the health service and other agencies as well as additional support to those on benefits than any other advanced nation across this crisis.

“I hope this explains the situation and offers a little insight into the oddities and political gameplaying that happens in Parliament.”

Karen Constantine

Following the motion County Councillor Karen Constantine has challenged Mr Mackinlay to live on Universal Credit rates for one month.

She said: “It seems our local MP really doesn’t understand the link between low income and food poverty. Child poverty is a scourge and could start to be eliminated at the stroke of a pen.

“Instead of rising to this challenge of dealing with Thanet’s child poverty and child hunger epidemic, our local MP has buried his head in the sand. If he tried to exist on Universal Credit for a month and experienced first-hand the difficulties, he’d soon take action to reverse food poverty.”

Summer Kitchen team including Sharon Goodyer (front) and Cllr Barry Lewis Photo Caroline Dyal

Fellow county councillor Barry Lewis added: “In conjunction with Sharon Goodyer, I will redouble my efforts to negate the horrendous decision by the Conservatives, including Craig Mackinlay, not to feed children duringthe Christmas holidays. Our children must be our first priority. I highlighted this problem three years ago wth the Summer Kitchen project with the purpose of alleviating child poverty.”

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale did not vote on the motion.

Child poverty statistics

Thanet has the second highest child poverty rates in the south of England and the highest in Kent, according to a report released by Loughborough University on behalf of coalition End Child Poverty.

According to the research some 37% of youngsters aged under 16 on the isle are living below the poverty line after housing costs – equating to 9943 children. The ‘poverty line’ is defined as household income (adjusted to account for household size,) that  is less than 60% of the median income.

Local authority% of children below 60% median income AHC
AHCBHC%age point difference (2014/15 – 2018/19
UK Average30%20%10%
Isle of Wight32.7%20.4%12.3%


In 2014/15 there were 34.9% of children in Thanet defined as living in poverty (after housing costs) compared to 37% in 2018/19. Data at ward level has not been released in the Loughborough report.

Separate data from Kent County Council shows 21.4% of Thanet children -5745- being defined as living in absolute low income households (before housing costs) – the highest level in Kent. KCC data does include some ward detail and shows almost half of the wards in Thanet (47.8%) and Dover (42.9%) are within the 20% of wards in Kent with the highest proportion of children in absolute low income families.

The government had bowed to pressure to extended free meals over the summer holidays, but says the ‘primary responsibility’ lays with parents and passing that responsibility to the state ‘increases dependency.’


  1. Last time I even saw McKinley in the area he represents it was Broadstairs food festival…ironic really ..

  2. I mean he is a Tory – being two-faced is part of the job.

    For him to call it ‘political gameplaying’ gives you an insight into the person.

  3. It’s about time all parents realised that children are THEIR responsibility to feed. If they can’t afford them , they shouldn’t have them . It is not right to scrounge off the taxes of others.

      • There wasn’t a pandemic then!!!! People are on reduced income through no fault of their own, because the government is ordering pubs and restaurants to close early, music venues to close, vulnerable people to stay at home etc. even in Tier 1 areas. Once you get to Tier 3 you’re furloughed, now on just two thirds of your wage – if you’re one of the lucky ones that gets furloughed, as it’s the employers decision, not yours. How are people supposed to find the extra money to pay their bills to keep a roof over their family’s heads and keep them warm in winter AND feed their kids when they’re not allowed to work? Especially those who are on the minimum wage or zero hour contracts?

      • You shouldn’t have to go without to feed your children. It’s not good for your health, and the government should ensure that all the people can afford to buy food for the whole family. It’s your right to expect that!

      • The families who join our food club are trying hard to feed their children better. They are eager to find new recipes, learn new cooking skills and work with us to use local seasonal affordable foods to make tasty nutritious family meals. A little help goes a long way. Why would we not support them?

    • Our lives change. We settle down, have a good job, buy/rent a house and have children.
      Then the relationship breaks down, or one of us, or both, is laid off or forced to take lower hours and pay, and the rent goes up(there are no rent controls these days) and suddenly, the children we had become a huge expense compared to the situation when we had them.
      Personally, I DID take responsibility for my child and for myself in my old age or if we become ill. I did this by voting Labour all my life to make sure that, if illness, or redundancy, or job loss , or old age struck, there would be a Social safety net in place to help out. And I didn’t evade taxes by claiming to live in an offshore island or in Gibraltar etc. I payed my taxes so that nobody would face destitution when faced with a drastic change of circumstances.
      Insurance works the same way but the private insurance companies fight you every inch of the way rather than pay out.
      Of course, if you vote Tory and keep talking about taking personal responsibility for everything, I wish you jolly good luck when hard times come round.

    • Yes, true, Kevin, but circumstances change in people’s lives meaning they may struggle to cope and this is particularly true in the current crisis. No-one expects their life to be turned upside down by unemployment, accidents, illness, both physical and mental. None of us has a crystal ball to see into the future. Your comment shows little compassion so let’s hope you, whatever your circumstances, never need to seek help.

    • So everyone is supposed to have a crystal ball and know that a pandemic is going to hit in 2020, turning businesses and people’s lives upside down???!!!! They are not choosing not to work. These are unprecedented times and if the government can fund half-price dining for those affluent enough to eat out back in August it can find the money to stop kids going hungry.

    • Poor response Kevin Payne, on the face of it you are right. However if the parents choose not to feed their children or can’t, then by your reasoning the children must and should go hungry. It is not their fault that they are in the world, dont blame them. Things happen in a relationship for better or worse but to make the children suffer who had no say in the matter of being born is at best sad and at worst appalling and shows no compassion.

      • But under your logic, the taxpayer is expected to keep forking out ever more money to support the poor/irresponsible decision making of parents. Handing out ever more money (in whatever form) just creates a greater moral hazard.
        Have a look at
        And put in some numbers for various permutations of circumstances. So long as families are supported to these levels then its down to families to cope of social services to intervene.

        As a landlord over the years i’ve seen families that have coped very nicely thank you on benefits and others who’d still be skint on friday if you gave them 10k on monday.
        Yet again there are comments about ever rising rents. You can point at social housing and say look how much cheaper it is, but add the likesmof the 40 billion given to them for the decent homes standard, the fact that the social sector ignore legislation , grenfell is the extreme example, locally tdc with its abysmal record of gas a legionella testing just for starters, tdc will be paying its social housing staffs pensions out of council tax not rents, so the true cost to society of social housing is hidden to keep the rents notionally low to tenants.
        I had a family of 4 who when you factored in all the benefits they received and the bills they did not pay ( ignored water and council tax for over 3 years) and put the numbers into a reverse tax calculator meant they were on the equivalent of 42k a year. But fed the kids on happy meals. Despite owing over 3k in council tax they were allocated a council house, nice enough people but certainly knew how to game the system. Plus despite all the cash could’nt keep the cat ( which was in breach of their tenancy agreement) flea free so it cost me nigh on 2k to get the flat fit for the next tenant ( that figure includes the additional 6 weeks void dealing with the problem).
        How much cashh do you throw at people ?

        • Your forgot to mention the fact you were also get money from the state , housing benefit your tenants were paying you You and all the other buy to let brigade have done quick nicely ,hypocrites 😗

          • Obviously i get rent, its paid to me by my tenants who may or may not be in receipt of local housing allowance which is part of the benefit calculation used in the link i posted.
            Social housing providers also receive benefits via their tenants, the social rented sector has more tenants of benefits than the private sector.
            Unlike the social rented sector, i had to pay vat to build my properties, received no state funding, pay tax on any profits and on any capital gains. My properties are in better condition than the majority of TDCs and are likley safer. Idon’t need to provide fire alarm systems and maintain them (in addition to the mandatory smoke detectors) but i do.
            My rents are very close to the local housing allowance and since 2002 have lagged inflation by around 10%. Unlike the social sector i have to pay for selective licensing, pay for energy efficiency improvements (but you still have many tenants who want to wander round in a t shirt and shorts all year and use the windows to control the temperature rather than use the thermostat controls).
            I’ve made a considerable investment over the years and put plenty of time into it all but certainly don’t earn the 42k the family in my post did.

          • A few facts and less vitriol will suit me. There are a huge number of landlords that offer far better accomodation than the likes of TDC do, maintain it better and offer better responses to tenant issues. But they are all pilloried for the actions of the irresponsible. But take the same view about the fat, benefit claimants etc and oh no you can’t judge all on the actions of the few.
            At least take a stance one way or the other and not flip flop as suits your point of view.

    • Even, EVEN if it is the fault of the parents that a child is going hungry, the point remains… A child is going hungry. It is NEVER the fault of the child and, therefore, irrespective of anything else, the state should be stepping in and feeding hungry children. Your response is, at best, naive and, at worst, just disgusting.

    • Have you been In 2020 or living in a bubble? So many families have been hit hard ie people made redundant did they know covid was going to happen before they had their children were all mind readers and can see into the future get a grip!!! Whatever the situation children should be protected and looked after it’s the 21st century no child should go hungry .All conservative have ever done is made the divide between rich and poor massive and take away from the people who truly need it.let’s hope you never full on hard times and need help so narrow minded!!!!

  4. I blame the kids for being poor. If they weren’t poor they wouldn’t go hungry, so its their fault (I consulted Donald Trump). This Tory government has given billions and billions of tax payers pounds to their business friends, which we will have to pay back via more public service cuts in the future. Remember this at the next general election if you vote for our two lick spittle Tory MP’s!

  5. Only less then 10 minutes walk from his office there is a new food bank open called St Peter Food Bank.
    If he will like photo opportunities the food bank open this Friday morning 10:30 to 12noon.

  6. Semantics Mr McKinley. The amendment adds no monetary value whatsoever. If I were Marcus Rashford I would return my MBE in disgust. In comparison to what is being spent elsewhere ( £7000 a day for consultants, Government Minister saving Mr Desmond £65 million in tsk by illegally overruling a planning decision etc. ) how much would free school meals cost? Just a few million! Shame on you and your crony filled Government from a previous Tory voter!

    • This is the problem with celebrities-most of it is for publicity & virtue signalling. He should have either refused the worthless gong publicly for maximum exposure until the government & Brenda actually delivered what he asked for, or accepted it & then made a big deal of returning it as they hadn’t done it. Even if he is that rare breed of famous people who do things not for theur own benefit he has let himself be played like a fool by the politicians for PR, who never had any intention of actually delivering.

      • Mackinlay is only interested in projects he has a vested interest in.

        Airport – owns dormant airline.
        Rights for landlords- owns a property management company.
        Harbour development – Moars boat there.

        Anything he doesnt profit from personally he shows no interest in. He has no understanding of the needs of local people and zero empathy. However he’s more than happy to crush tax payers money on his expenses account. This is low, even by his lousy standards.

    • But you have tdc cynically manipulating the planning system for their benefit and their commercial partners , whilst ignoring the concerns of local residents, tdc are just as morally bankrupt.

  7. Never agree to a photo opportunity with Craig MacKinlay. He will use the photo to highlight his “support” then when push comes to shove he will look after number one.
    Self-serving doesn’t do him justice

    • Very true. Bear in mind that even if DON’T agree to the photo opp, he will pinch your placards and get a photo opp anyway – even if he hasn’t lifted a finger to support your cause. He did this to SONIK after he had spent months dismissing us and saying we were making an unecessary fuss over the stroke unit closure. We complained, but he just doubled down, and even used the photo on his election leaflet. He is a lying toad. He has no integrity, no morals.

  8. I am not going down the ‘bash a Tory’ road, they are doing enough damage to their tattered reputation on their own.But really,how much does this school dinner scheme cost? Peanuts next to the £2.1 trillion national debt.We have already broke the bank, ramped up the printing presses, and cut down the magic money forest, to pay for Covid relief, so what’s a few million extra going to do?.
    All it does it makes Mackinlay + Co, look mean, and by rubbishing Marcus Rashford, petty.
    What’s happening here is the dawning of some understanding, that being in Govt is not fun, and buying friends and paying off old scores, only gets you so far.Still they have 4 years to clear the yardarm or to sink without trace.
    As for the finger pointing you had too many kids mantra, its beneath contempt and is the refuge of the congenitally selfish.

  9. I mean can’t these parents go & shoot some grouse to feed their kids? In groups of no more than 30 of course.

  10. For Mackinlay to vote against it is bad enough, but to claim he didn’t is appallingly disingenuous. When the next election rolls around, and he asks for re-election, I hope we collectively adopt the same dishonesty.

    • That’s Roger for you only votes on what interests him…time he was put out to grass…need someone much younger and has the energy to work with local communities

  11. Well done Sharon for speaking up. Watching Craig try to make excuses is pitiful and cringeworthy. In summer it was reported that the UK had haemorrhaged 75,000 jobs. Huge amounts of people have lost all income; many more have seen their income drop, and going into winter many will see enormous drops in income. People need to understand that Universal Credit is a flawed system; it isn’t enough to get by on, and it forces people to live in debt. If you think extending free school meals into next year, and including school hols, is not a completely necessary step then you must be living in a comfortable bubble of financial security. Take a look outside the bubble.

  12. If you get transferred to universal credit you face weeks of delay before payment but your landlord still wants his rent,your children needs school shoes, the fridge has broken down and DWP insist you keep a daily diary of your job search.

    You walk to the Jobcentre to meet your work coach because your purse was empty and Stagecoach don’t let you travel free.

    You get told of a job interview but you have no-one to collect your child from school so you get sanctioned. I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.

    Thank you, Sharon and Karen for speaking up.

    • Yes but your landlord can’t evict you for 6 months by which time your UC claim will have been long sorted. The DWP system is predicated on the idea that as much effort should go into getting a job as would be expended if you had one. Its to take the simplicity out of claiming longterm. One of the most effective ideas is moving people to another centre when they have been unemployed too long, it works very well.

  13. I am fed up with fat women with a fag in one hand and mobile phone in the other complaining that they can’t afford to feed their kids

    • You forgot the bottle/can of alcoholic beverage of choice tucked into the canopy of the buggy and the staffy on its lead.

  14. Derek and Local Chap- why don’t you try to get away from the tabloid-style stereotypes and read something factual about child poverty? Which is never the fault of the child, as several people have already pointed out on this thread.

    • Obviously its not the childs fault, but in far too many its the fault of the parents/carers. At one thanet primary school over 30% of the kids have concern sheets raised by the school. Its pointless handing out ever greater sums of cash if you don’t deal with the parenting as it does little more than set a precedent.
      20 years of being a landlord in cliftonville and you see what happens in the real world. The worst example was the child brothel in Arthur Road, raided ,closed down , kids taken into care. But no prosecutions because the authorities did’nt want to stigmatise the wider community associated with the offenders. Hardly a deterrent.

    • I spent years travelling the world and I can tell you unless you have done the same you have no idea what real poverty is. Kids with legs amputated on skateboard begging for coins, boys trying to sell their sisters for sex and plenty of other distasteful things, Don’t tell me I don’t know

      • I’ve travelled a fair bit, mostly through work, worked with and alongside the locals, the biggest eye opener for me sbeing invited to eat with labourers families in Guinea where the shacks with mud floors were far cleaner than a lot of flats i’ve seen in cliftonville and where the family had to earn every penny the hard way not have it given to them. In the philipines a mechanic that borrowed from family to pay for his sons surgery and would be paying it back for the rest of his life. A worker in brazil who’s son who died in a fight over a 10 real prostitute , yet was at work the next day to support his family. Bangladeshi labourers working in Oman and Libya who were effectively going to work all but one day a month until there was no more work in order to support their families. Girls in thailand unable to get decent jobs through lack of education choosing to work as bar girls as it paid 10 times what a shop or factory job would. A 19 year old girl in a sandwich shop stabbed by her colleague over a boy in a bar, but going back to work as soonas she could, with the colleague.
        Too many in this country would even consider such things were seen as good choices and instead are quite content bemoaning their lot and holding their hand out for more with little thought as to what they might do to improve their lot.

        • Oh and the best place i ever worked in regards to the attitiude , honesty and work ethicof the peole was Libya , it was still under Gaddafi and it was nothing like i expected. Internally the country worked , for all its pariah status in the world it still had a pipeline supplying gas/oil to europe.
          Whilst there a local official remarked that the west will never understand the way the arab mind works and in trying to i pose the western notion of democracywill instead create mayhem death and war until a new strong leader emerges.
          How prophetic were his words in 2004.

  15. It’s refreshing to read the comparisonate remarks from all but a couple of stench tory supporters on this thread.
    It is most definitely not the children’s fault. And in the current Covid climate, it is likely not the parent’s fault either.

  16. Hmmm, I like the allusion of ‘stench’ Tory supporters.
    The SWP strikes again.

    They are in the main staunch followers of their noses, which in Boris’s case gets longer by the day. He is, of course, becoming the political white elephant in the room and uniquely destructive and divisive.

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