Justin Madders MP has expressed concern after new figures from the Trussell Trust reveal that foodbank use in Ellesmere Port & Neston has increased by 6% in the last 12 months. The figures also show an alarming 13% increase in the number of children accessing local foodbanks.
Nationally, last year 1,109,309 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by the charity’s network of 424 foodbanks in the 2015/16 financial year, compared to 1,084,604 in 2014/15. Of this number, 415,866 went to children.
Questioning the new Work and Pensions Secretary, Stephen Crabb MP, Justin raised the increase in foodbank use and pressed him on whether he believed the rise was caused welfare benefit cuts.
“My local food bank, the West Cheshire Foodbank, has seen a 6% increase in usage in the past 12 months, including a disgraceful 13% more children coming to use the food bank over that period. Why has there been such an increase? Is that due to welfare benefit cuts, or does the Minister believe there is another explanation?”
The Secretary of State responded:
“I am happy to speak to the hon. Gentleman about the situation in his constituency, but the Trussell Trust recently found that there has been no overall increase in the use of food banks over the past 12 months. Indeed, the average price of food has fallen by 2.5% over the past 12 months, and average wages have gone up. We continue to spend more than £80 billion on working-age benefits to support those in need.”
Despite the Secretary of State’s claim, analysis from the Trussell Trust data shows a 2% increase in foodbank use nationally and demonstrates that the key reasons for people accessing the service are in benefit delays, sanctions and low income.
Speaking afterwards, Justin said:
“It’s a shame that the new Secretary of State is unwilling to face up to the fact that it is his Government’s policies that are driving record numbers of people through the doors of foodbanks.
It is a stain on this country that last year people were forced to rely on a charity just to be able to eat on over a million occasions.
It is alarming that there has been such a significant increase in Ellesmere Port & Neston, particularly in the number of children accessing the service. The Government needs to look again at its welfare policies and how people in work are supported as we are seeing more and more children being pushed into poverty.”