Labour MP Karl Turner tweeted that people were forced to use foodbanks to survive, to which Conservative councillor James Bannister responded angrily, and many people think, inappropriately.
Mr Bannister posted a photo of an African woman with a severely malnourished child to make his point and said many people on benefits chose to spend money on drugs and alcohol.
Tweeting from the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Labour MP for Hull East Karl Turner said it was a “disgrace” that people were being referred by job centres to foodbanks and that many of them were “starving”.
Responding, Newcastle-under-Lyme councillor Mr Bannister said in his experience of being unemployed, job centres were often “hubs for drugs” and added that “starving people at job centres should have spent their benefits on fresh veg instead of fast food”.
Mr Bannister later posted tips on how to eat on a budget and added that he financially supported a family in East Africa, which was why he found the word starving “despicable”
Mr Turner admitted that he might have used the word “too flippantly”, but accused Mr Bannister of posting a photo of what appeared to be a “corpse child” to “make a political point”.
“What sort of benchmark does Councillor Bannister think we should have,” he added.
While the situation could not be compared with some areas of Africa, Kirsty Scullion, a trustee for the Stoke-on-Trent foodbank said:
We are talking significant hunger, so yes I would say we’ve got families, particularly children, who can be described as starving, simply because they’re malnourished.
In many cases it’s families who genuinely can’t afford [to buy food].
Many of those [at the foodbank] are people who have lost their jobs and the benefits haven’t kicked in yet.
I do think he needs to have done his research, have a full understanding of what the needs are in the city and perhaps come out and speak to the food bank directly,
In the five months the foodbank has been operating, it has fed more than 1,300 families and individuals, from a wide range of backgrounds.
The Department of Work and Pensions said it had not received any complaints about anyone dealing in drugs at Newcastle-under-Lyme or any other job centre.
Source: BBC News