Green MEP slams government as foodbank use surges to record high in South East

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has criticised the government’s ‘hunger as punishment for poverty’ policy as new figures show a record surge in the use of foodbanks across the region.

New statistics released by the Trussell Trust, a charity which runs a network of foodbanks across the UK, reveals that foodbank use in the South East has risen, yet again, to a record high.

The figures highlight the Tory government’s abandonment of Britain’s most vulnerable and low-paid workers is not confined to the country’s poorest regions; the South East is the second wealthiest region of the UK.

Between April and September 2016, Trussell Trust foodbanks gave 45,435 three day food supplies to people in crisis across the South East, compared to 44,427 during the same period in 2015. Across the country, the trust delivered a record high 519,349 three day parcels; almost 13,000 more than in 2015. Of those receiving handouts in the South East, 17,285 were children.

The statistics, which come just days after Theresa May announced her intention to condemn thousands of Britain’s most vulnerable, children, single parents and low paid workers to poverty by committing to the benefit cap, reveal that the single biggest reason people have for using a foodbank is ‘benefit delays’.

Keith, who authored a report on foodbank usage in the South East, said:

“This report underlines the simple fact that the British government doesn’t care about the most vulnerable in our society. Theresa May’s promise to build a Britain ‘that works for the many and not a privileged few’ has been exposed, yet again, for the cynical and empty rhetoric that it is. Record high foodbank use is an indication that we have a Tory government that is prepared to let many go hungry while they work in the interests of a privileged few corporations.”

“Across the UK, we are seeing people facing benefit cuts, relationship breakdowns, tougher sanctions, a punitive new benefit cap all while dealing with increasingly insecure work and wage stagnation. At the same time, bills are going up every month. The effect is a despicable de facto ‘hunger as punishment for poverty’ policy. It’s no wonder that so many people, unforgivably abandoned by the state, are struggling to feed their families.”

“The government’s actions clearly fail to live up to its promises. Sadly, in the post-truth political culture, the ever-growing gulf between the two is hardly noted. The supposed party of ‘economic reliability’ has built an economy that is failing the many. While those at the top continue to thrive, many millions are suffering the lingering effects of a failed, ideologically-driven, austerity project.”

A South East county-level breakdown for supplies provided to adults and children in crisis by Trussell Trust foodbanks is available here.