England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has questioned a government minister's response to his Twitter plea to address poverty in the UK.
Among a thread of four tweets, Rashford wrote: “Take a second to think about parents who have had their water turned off during lockdown.”
Work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey responded to a retweet of his message, saying: “Water cannot be disconnected though.”
Water cannot be disconnected though— Therese Coffey #ProtectEachOtherSaveLives (@theresecoffey) June 16, 2020
I’m concerned this is the only tweet of mine you acknowledged. Please, put rivalries aside for a second, and make a difference #maketheuturn— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
Rashford responded: “I’m concerned this is the only tweet of mine you acknowledged. Please, put rivalries aside for a second, and make a difference.”
Soon after the initial exchange, Coffey tweeted a further message to Rashford: “We are working to the same aim. I & this Govt will continue to actively help and support families and businesses through this emergency and beyond.
She added: “We supported people renting and ensure they cannot be evicted & intervened with electricity suppliers on bills. We have kept schools open for vulnerable children and those of key workers. We will continue to support the economy and help all of us get through this.”
On Monday, Rashford asked the government to reverse its decision regarding free school meal vouchers.
The government decided that children will not be able to get the vouchers during the summer and the the 22-year-old highlighted his own childhood experiences, telling those responsible that "the system isn't built for families like mine to succeed".
Prime minister Boris Johnson then rejected that plea, with Downing Street confirming that the scheme will end to coincide with the school term.
Conservative MP Robert Halfon, chairman of the education select committee, said that there were “mixed views” among fellow party members over the free school meals decision.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Halfon said: “The prime minister said that when we come out of this, we will not be in austerity again.
“If that is the case, I think an important example of this would be to keep the school meal programme over the summer, because it is not a lot of extra money if you add up all the different government food programmes, but it’s simple, it works, and the public understand it.”
Rashford’s tweets were extracts from a column the 22-year-old footballer wrote for The Times. in which he asked: “Give our vulnerable families just one less thing to worry about.”
He said: “I don’t claim to have the education of an MP in parliament, but I do have a social education. I am clued up on the difference a U-turn decision would make on the 1.3 million vulnerable children across the UK who are registered for free school meals because ten years ago I was one of them.
“Today I am asking that all MPs put their rivalries aside and stand in solidarity on an issue that could prove detrimental to the stability of families across the country for generations to come. Help us break the cycle of hardship.”