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Policy Watch

An eye on policy changes in Ireland, the UK and beyond

Poverty, Inequality and Covid | Holding NI Ministers to account: Free School Meals and Food Insecurity

General  |  Mon Feb 15 2021

Poverty, Inequality and Covid

Economic analysis of the impact of the pandemic, published by Oxfam at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, found that the rise in wealth of the world's ten richest billionaires during the pandemic "is more than enough to prevent anyone on Earth from falling into poverty because of the virus, and to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone".

National media, including in Ireland, reviewed the findings for their countries. In the UK, the government is being urged to combat the rise in inequality by fully implementing the provisions of the Equality Act for everyone as well as extending it to cover socio-economic inequality.Vaccine evidence in the UK indicates that white over-80s are almost twice as likely as their black peers to have been vaccinated against Covid-19; the government faces growing calls to do more to address institutional mistrust and lack of confidence in the programme amongst minority groups.

Holding NI Ministers to account -- free school meals and food insecurity

MLAs questioned the Minister for Education on the number of students receiving free school meals now as against the previous years. In answer to an earlier question, the Communities Minister recognised that food insecurity and the use of food banks has increased here. She said her department had responded by allocating additional funding to local councils and charities for food distribution, and described a bulk food scheme for community food providers to be launched shortly. She said that the medium term aim is to move towards more sustainable interventions such as Social Supermarkets, which she said seek to address the causes of food poverty.

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