Figures released today show that the need and use of Food Banks in the UK has reached an all-time high. More than 1 million people have received food from Trussell Trust Food Banks and almost 400,000 of these were children. 60,000 people received food from food banks in 2010 – 2011 but today over a million more have had to rely on food donations to put food on the table.
Diogo Rodrigues (Labour, Bridgwater Dunwear) said “Over these 5 years of Conservative-Lib Dem rule people have been more reliant than ever on food banks. The poor have gotten poorer and many innocent people have been penalised by the vicious and unfair attacks imposed upon them by this discriminatory, uncompassionate government. 44% of referrals for these donations have been caused by benefit changes and delays, with benefit sanctions especially really affecting people. This is immoral and unjust yet David Cameron believes otherwise as he has recently ‘rejected an overall review of benefit sanctions for the unemployed and insisted that the current system was compassionate’. “
“This government claims that the economy is improving; unemployment is down and people are supposedly better off. How can people be better off when figures show that 22% of all referrals for food donations are caused by ‘Low pay’? The unemployment rate may be ‘going down’ but clearly people are not better off. More people are going to food banks because they simply are not earning enough to live day by day and I do believe that Zero-Hour Contracts are one of the main reasons for this. We need to fix the cost of living crisis with Labours better and fairer policies such as ending rip-off prices on energy bills, freezing gas and electricity bills until 2017, supporting working parents with the cost of childcare and increasing the NMW. “
“More locally, the Food Bank in Bridgwater saw a 15% increase in the number of referrals they received for food donations with over 2000 people being given help, an increase of almost 300 from last year which is completely out of order. These figures make me very troubled and worried for the men, women and children affected. We need to take a stand against the unfair and punitive polices that drive these people into poverty and this is why I will always stand up and be a strong voice for people in the community who are forced into such immoral and unfair hardship.”
Alan Beech (Labour, Highbridge) says “A vote for Labour at this election is a vote to reverse the use of food banks by abolishing jobcentre targets for increasing sanctions and making hardship funds more quickly available for those who are sanctioned. Labour will also address low pay by committing to increase the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 an hour by 2019, promoting a living wage and bringing an end to exploitative zero-hour contracts so that people are not forced to go to food banks to feed themselves and their family.”
Reg Winslow (Labour Bridgwater Fairfax) says “For people having to be dependent on food banks in order to feed their families is totally unacceptable in a modern society. The Tories answer to this problem is that they are helping people out of poverty by getting them into employment and “tackling welfare dependency”.
“Many people using food banks are not ‘out of employment’. They are struggling in low paid work, including zero hour contracts creating insecure and irregular employment without financial security for families. Given there has been a 1,665% increase (source Trussell Trust) in food bank use on David Cameron’s watch, it shows the Tory policy is not working. The problem is getting worse and they just don’t seem to care. The fact that people in such numbers have to resort to using food banks is nothing less than a national disgrace. Labour are prepared to tackle this problem by addressing low pay by increasing the National Minimum Wage to in excess of £8 an hour by 2019 and promoting a living wage. At the same time Labour intend to bring an end to those zero-hour contracts that allow people to be exploited.”
Wes Hinckes (Labour,Bridgwater Hamp) adds “Today, in 21st century Britain we must face a bitter truth. That a government has failed its people.
Over 1 million of our fellow citizens have now been forced into a deeply disturbing reality. A reality whereby in order to survive; to keep themselves, their families, and their children alive. They must humble themselves at the door of another and plead for food.
Today in modern day Britain we must ask ourselves some questions. How could this be allowed to happen? How could a leadership be so vindictive, callous and cruel? How can those most vulnerable in our society, the very people our government should swear to protect, be punished in this unjust manner? And what can I do to help this situation end?
On May the 7th you can make a stand for a greater Britain, a first world nation, and a better world.
Vote Labour, and let’s get started fixing Britain.”