Wednesday, 18 September 2013

that nice, sensitive Michael Gove...

Just over a week ago (10 September) the Education Secretary, Michael Gove was asked this question by Luciana Berger MP in the House of Commons: "What can he and his Government do to ensure no students turn up to school embarrassed because they don't have the right clothes?"

He said he had recently visited a food bank in his Surrey Heath constituency. He went on: "I appreciate that there are families who face considerable pressures. Those pressures are often the result of decisions that they have taken which mean they are not best able to manage their finances."

Ms Berger said she was "appalled" by his remarks. "People I have met are ashamed to have to turn to food banks. I vehemently disagree it is because they have mismanaged their finances." In 2012 Ms Berger who is the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, made a short film in 2012 Breadline Britain which centres around this issue.

The Trussell Trust, who run almost 400 food banks in the UK, have some statistics about the work that they do: Since April 2012 they have seen an increase in the numbers of foodbanks of 76% but a 170% increase in the numbers of people given emergency food. That number is 346 992 in 2012/13 and relates to the period up to April 2013. That is to say the figures are before the benefit changes came in.

The Trussell Trust see the main causes as the rising cost of living, static incomes, underemployment and unemployment, all things that lead to increasing numbers of people hitting a a crisis causing them to turn to the Trussell Trust.

The Executive Chairman of the Trussell Trust, Chris Mould says: "The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can't afford food is a wake-up call to the nation that we cannot ignore the hunger on our doorstep. Politicians across the spectrum urgently need to recognise the real extent of UK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes. This is more important than ever as the impact of the biggest reforms to the welfare state since it began start to take effect. Since 1 April we have already seen increasing numbers of people in crisis being sent to foodbanks with nowhere else to go."

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