Trafford’s Labour leader has called on government to end the half-term hunger crises after figures, published by LGA Labour, revealed a surge in the number of pupils registering to receive Free School Meals (FSM).

According to new data 1million pupils recently signed up for the first time – and that’s on top of the 1.4million who were already claiming FSM before the pandemic caused havoc with family incomes.

Cllr Andrew Western fears that in Trafford more than 4,600 schoolchildren face half-term with increased lockdown restrictions – and without a FSM.

He also expressed concern about the rocketing unemployment figures – and the furlough scheme ending – which he says will financially cripple already struggling parents.

“Children have had a really tough year – this incompetent government should be supporting them, not leaving them to go hungry,” said Cllr Western.

“We know how much the new lockdown restriction have affected our lives – and that’s making it much harder for families to earn a living and put food on the table.

“It is utterly ridiculous that at a time when we should all be pulling together this government is leaving local parents to fend for themselves.”

Cllr Western also argued that the government had been ‘too slow’ to act throughout the pandemic.

He added: “So instead of waiting to the last minute ministers should act now and keep FSM going through half-term – they should stand by local families in fighting this terrible disease.”

This summer, Tory ministers bowed to pressure from the Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford who launched a campaign to end child food poverty.

However, to date, ministers have refused to commit to providing the service this half term.