THE GOVERNMENT has been urged to extend support for families to stop children going hungry during the school holidays.

Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, said MPs on the panel and the Education Select Committee heard "profoundly distressing" evidence from mothers who spoke of their struggles during the summer holidays.

Mr Field has written jointly to new Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd to urge them to take immediate action to help families struggling during the holidays.

He said: "We heard about parents going without meals and surviving on cereal just to make sure their children were fed. We heard about families being plunged into debt, just to get by.

"The two committees plan to hear further evidence on this issue in the autumn, and in due course produce a report with recommendations for action.

"In the meantime, we would be grateful if you would consider the evidence we have heard, and reflect on what immediate action the Government might take."

He urged them to extend a pilot scheme which supports children eligible for free school meals during the summer break.

It comes as the committee has published a report looking at levels of poverty and destitution in the UK.

The report found that while pensioner poverty has fallen because of policies like the "pensions triple lock", this has largely been at the expense of younger people.

The MPs heard evidence from the Social Metrics Commission which suggests that poverty rates among pension-age adults fell from 20.8% in 2001 to 11.4% in 2017, thanks to successive governments agreeing on the scale and nature of the problem.

Conversely, the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts a 7% rise in child poverty between 2015 and 2022, and various sources predict child poverty rates as high as 40%.

The committee also found that the bottom 20% of earners will have lost on average 10% of their income by 2021-22 as a result of policy changes since 2010.

Independent MP Mr Field said: "The Government has shown that it can make target-busting savings through devastating, cumulative cuts to the incomes of the poor, by capping and freezing benefits that was begun under the coalition government.

"Likewise, there is now no effective strategy to increase the life chances of poorer children.

"It has failed to recognise the unacceptably bleak picture emerging as it shreds our social safety net."

A Government spokesman said: "We're helping people to improve their lives through work and ensuring those on a low income keep more of what they earn by increasing the National Living Wage and cutting taxes for 32 million people.

"There are more people in work than ever before and wages continue to outstrip inflation, but we recognise that some families need more support.

"That's why we're investing £9 million in free summer holiday clubs and continuing to spend £95 billion a year on working age welfare to support families."