Cameron: Increase in food bank use all about better promotion and nothing to do with poverty
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Housing
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Prime Minister David Cameron says the increase in the use of food banks is due to the fact they are "properly advertised and promoted" and has nothing to do with poverty.
Last month, the Trussell Trust revealed that nearly one million people has received emergency food parcels during 2013-14, a 163% rise on the previous year.
But the prime minister poured cold water on the suggestion that the goverment's policies had anything to do with it.
Responding to a question from George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley - where food bank use had increased by 93% - Cameron said: "What I would say to the right hon. gentleman is that the best route out of poverty is work, and we should welcome the fact that there are 1.5 million more people in work.
"Looking at the figures, of course, yes, he is right that food bank usage has gone up, not least because food banks are now properly advertised and promoted, not only by Jobcentre Plus but by local authorities.
"If the right hon. gentleman wants to deal in facts, the OECD has shown that the proportion of people struggling to buy food in the UK has actually fallen since before Labour’s great recession. I know that opposition members want to make this argument about poverty and inequality in Britain, but the statistics do not back them up.
"Inequality has fallen compared with when Labour was in office; there are fewer people in relative poverty, and fewer children in relative poverty. The picture Labour members want to paint — because they cannot paint one of an economy that is not growing, or one of people who are not getting jobs — is wholly false."
According to the Trussell Trust, static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare, especially sanctioning, have driven food bank demand.
In a recent survey, 83% of Trussell Trust food banks reported that benefits sanctions have caused more people to be referred to them for emergency food.