Obscenely paid footballers, not the Isle of Wight Council, should keep schoolkids from going hungry.

That appears to be the view of at least one council cabinet member at a time his leader is pledging to stop Island children going hungry.

An exchange of e-mails leaked to the County Press, has finance member Cllr Stuart Hutchinson telling a fellow councillor the financial pressures were such that he did not recommend council funding.

The e mails came on the same day the council issued a press statement in which leader Cllr Dave Stewart appeared to pledge support.

In the statement, Cllr Stewart said: “In the short term we have committed extra money to the Help Through Crisis scheme which is already operating to provide crucial help to those Islanders struggling to afford food and other essentials during the pandemic.

"I am sure we will be able to find more money if required. I do not want any Island child to go hungry."

The emails have brought angry condemnation from Isle of Wight Labour, with Richard Quigley, candidate at the 2019 election, saying the suggestion that footballers, rather than government, should pay up, showed a lack of backbone and was 'pathetic'.

In the e mails, Cllr Hutchinson estimated given that 1,000 children are eligible for free school meals on the Isle of Wight, it would cost around £130,000 per annum and be difficult to rein back in once introduced.

Given the current £8 million hole in the council budget, Cllr Hutchinson expresses concern at any further expenditure.

The Rashford effect: Find out where kids can eat for free on the Isle of Wight.

Cllr Paul Brading, cabinet member for children's services, said in the e mail exchange: "I do understand the rationale why the government voted against this in view of all the other support that is being given, but equally I'm unsure which way would have voted if I was an MP.

"I respect Marcus Rashford’s view, and admire his drive and passion, but perhaps he and his fellow professionals could give up part of their obscene £200k+ a week salaries to help out?

"My children's services budget is cut to the bone, and I have no more savings or cuts to free up funds for this.

"That said we at cabinet have already started to discuss potential ways we could help families at Christmas."

Isle of Wight County Press: IW Labour's Richard Quigley.IW Labour's Richard Quigley.

Mr Quigley, who last week slammed Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely for voting against the vouchers, said: "After speaking to Cllr Stewart, I was encouraged that, despite our political differences, we agreed that children shouldn't go hungry.

"Now that I have read that councillors are briefing against the scheme due to the perceived costs, I realise the lack of backbone isn't just reserved for Bob Seely.

"Suggesting that footballers should pay for the scheme, but not standing up to central government is truly pathetic. These aren't numbers on a spreadsheet, they are children — children on our Island who we all have a duty to care for.

"The proposals from the council, to fund Help Through Crisis are obviously welcome, but mean that people requiring help need to access a whole new system of doing so.

"Cllr Stewart agreed with me that using the existing system of food vouchers, would be the quickest and easiest way of doing so.

"It seems his officers have blown him off course, so I ask that he takes control and funds the existing system to reach those that have already been identified as need help.

"The fact we are having this debate in 2020 should make everyone very angry."

Mr Quigley said 72 per cent of the 9,550 children in poverty on the Island are from a household with at least one working adult.