I want to live in a country where food banks were not needed.
We are the 5th richest country in the world and it is a tragedy that so many of our fellow citizens live in food poverty, many of whom are in work which is an even greater scandal.
Sadly, policy failures by central government means that poverty continues to rise and more families and vulnerable people in our communities find themselves at risk.
In a report that came out this week, the twelve months April 2018 to March 2019 was shown to be the busiest year for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened. During that year, 1,583,668 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis across the country, with more than half a million of these going to children. This is an 18.8% increase on last year’s figures. Utterly shocking.
The report also identified that the main reasons for people needing emergency food are because the money they are receiving through Universal Credit is not enough to even cover the basic costs of living; or because of delays in receiving Universal Credit.
With not enough money to put food on the table, people are then forced to turn to food banks to survive.
The worst thing about this is that it could all so easily be avoided.
Our benefits system is supposed to be a safety net to protect us from being swept into poverty, and to ensure those in need, including children, are protected from unnecessary risk.
With this challenging picture nationally, I’d like to thank each and every volunteer, fundraiser and community project that come together each day and each week to ensure that the families in Tameside that need help, receives it.
I know from my own constituency, where the volunteers at the food banks in Haughton Green and in Dukinfield do great work to ensure that local families do not go hungry.
Thanks to their caring work and the kind donations from Tamesiders, our communities are much stronger than they would have been. But I also firmly believe that no one in our society should be forced to turn to food banks to survive.
Our social security system should be there to support any one of us should we need it, and should never make life worse for those than need the most support. So let’s also make it our mission to end the rollout of Universal Credit and fix our broken system, and let’s make food poverty history.