Lord Freud says Rising Food Poverty is Unrelated to Benefit Cuts
- 04 Jul
Conservative Work and Pensions minister has denied that the increase in food poverty is linked to the government's cuts that have been made to benefits.
People have been angered by his thoughts on the topic, as he said people were taking more food from food banks because more food banks existed.
Last month, figures showed that close to 500,000 people received food aid last year, which is triple the number of people from the previous year, and 100,000 more than anticipated.
A Labour MP, Roger Godsiff, warned that the figures were likely to rise even further this year and next, once the effects of the recent benefit cuts are felt, and demanded the government launch an inquiry in to the causes of food poverty as the most likely cause is benefit cuts.
Charities and campaigners have said the rise in the need for food aid is down to cuts to benefits and the recent economic struggles. Critics have also put it down to a government sceme requiring benefit claimants to wait seven days before being able to apply for state support, which would increase the need to turn to emergency aid such as food banks.
A report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty five weeks ago said that the number of people using food banks has trebled in the past year alone.
When challenged by the Bishop of Truro over whether ministers accepted this link, Lord Freud responded that it was difficult to make the causal connections, and that it could be due to supply and demand: more people are using food banks to feed their families because more food banks existed.
Chris Johnes, director of Oxfam's UK poverty programme, said:
These comments don't bear much relation to the reality. The fact is that food banks are stepping in to fill a gap left by the welfare system.
The evidence is very clear that people are going to food banks out of real need. They feel a sense of stigma that they can't feed themselves and their families.
Chris Mould from Trussel Trust said:
It's absolutely clear there is a growing demand for emergency food supply. That is the consequence of a growing problem with people making ends meet... there is lots of evidence to that effect.
The only people who seem unable to accept there is a social crisis driven by the cost of living is the Government.
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