Meals for 472,000 children during school holidays should continue with government funding, local authorities across London are urging.

A survey by London Councils, which represents the authorities, shows three out of every four households see paying for children’s food during the holidays as well as utility bills as their biggest worries.

Families are being cushioned by the government’s £136million Household Support Fund, which is currently paying for meals during holidays and in some cases other bills.

“We have put the government’s fund to good use,” London Councils’ deputy chair Claire Holland said. “It is providing meals for thousands of children during school holidays and giving low-income families a precious lifeline to help them get back on their feet, whether that is covering gas bills or paying for school uniforms.

“So we are calling on the government to continue the fund and confirm this as soon as possible — then local authorities can get on with the job of support where it is needed.”

The organisation wants to know whether the fund is being renewed at existing levels, to avoid uncertainty that could mean job losses affecting services. Council staff could be laid off without knowing that the cash will continue.

A debate on the funding was organised by East Ham’s MP Sir Stephen Timms, who chairs the Parliamentary Work and Pensions committee, held on January 31 with other MPs at Westminster Hall.

The move for extending meals during school holidays follows celebrity chef Jamie Oliver last month welcoming term-time lunches being extended into 2025 for all state primary schools in London.

Children getting free meals include 13,500 in Barnet, 13,000 on Redbridge, 12,600 in Newham, 12,200 in Enfield 12,200, 11,500 in Brent, 10,650 in Havering, 10,000 in Harrow, 9,800 in Waltham Forest, 9,750 in Barking and Dagenham, 8,500 in Haringey, 8,300 in Tower Hamlets, 6,100 in Hackney, 4,250 in Islington, 3,600 Camden and 113 in the City.

This school year is the first time that free school meals have been available to all London primary-aged pupils in mainstream state and special schools and pupil referral units. Many youngsters from working families in poverty were not able to receive free meals until now.