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'Kindness is power': Marcus Rashford forces UK government U-turn as Boris Johnson pledges £400m for free kids' meals

'Kindness is power': Marcus Rashford forces UK government U-turn as Boris Johnson pledges £400m for free kids' meals
A campaign by Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has caused UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to switch gears and pledge £400 million to help support underprivileged children and their families this winter.

The scheme, which will be overseen by local councils, will help provide support for food and bill payments with a further plan aimed at providing holiday food and an activities program set to be extended. Rashford has stated that as many as 1.7 million children could potentially be positively affected by the move.

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The agreement represents a significant change of approach for Johnson and his Conservative government who had previously argued that the existing Universal Credit scheme was sufficient in helping to provide for worse-off families. The scheme will now receive funding from the beginning of December until the end of March.

Furthermore, the holiday food and activities program will be boosted by a £220 million ($289 million) investment to cover Easter, summer and Christmas in 2021 as well as a multi-million pound investment in the country's food banks.

Johnson spoke to Rashford on Saturday to inform him of the plans, with Rashford outlining the "good conversation" he had with the Prime Minister following Manchester United's 3-1 Premier League win away to Everton on Saturday.

"Following the game today, I had a good conversation with the prime minister to better understand the proposed plan, and I very much welcome the steps that have been taken to combat child food poverty in the UK," Rashford said.

"The intent the government have shown today is nothing but positive and they should be recognised for that.

"The steps made today will improve the lives of near 1.7 million children in the UK over the next 12 months, and that can only be celebrated."

Rashford also revealed that Johnson has agreed to meet with the child food poverty task force which was set up by the 23-year-old England international.

"I am fully committed to this cause, and I will fight for the rest of my life for it, because in my mind, no child should ever go hungry in the United Kingdom," Rashford concluded, adding that helping the campaign meet its goals has been the "the greatest moment of my life."

In a certain light, the climbdown could be seen as defeat for embattled the embattled Prime Minister as he deals with numerous issues on several fronts - not least of which was his much-maligned decision to reinstate the national lockdown in England to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

However, Rashford has stated that his scheme isn't borne out of resentment for Johnson, but rather solely about helping to provide for poor families.

"We're not against him. That's the main reason I was happy to talk to him," Rashford told the BBC.

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