EXTRA funding will be made available to schools and local authorities to support free school meals.

An increase of more than £10 million was announced by Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville at the Government's coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.

The cash will be used to fund free school meals over Christmas, the February break and Easter, with reimbursements available for local authorities who provided provision over the October holiday.

Somerville said: “This important investment will support around 156,000 children and young people, helping families meet the cost of meals over the school holidays.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson rejects Marcus Rashford's plan to end child hunger

“It will be for local authorities to decide how this support is delivered, however we continue to advocate for a cash-first approach where appropriate, giving families the choice of what food they buy and where they buy it.”

A further £28m will be handed to local authorities to deal with “financial insecurity” with councils able to decide how they spend the increase.

The move comes as pressure mounts on the UK Government to extend its free school meals holiday scheme.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is campaigning for ministers to tackle food poverty among children by extending the scheme through the half-term and Christmas holidays. A petition he launched has now been signed by more than 290,000 people.

Rashford’s campaign on the matter earlier this year led to a U-turn by the Government for the summer break, but a repeat of the support was ruled out for England’s upcoming half-term.