Labour Shadow Cabinet member, Mary Creagh praised the work of local volunteers running a Teesside food bank on a visit to Redcar today.
The Shadow International Development Secretary joined Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar on a visit to the food bank at St William’s Church in Dormanstown.
Speaking to staff and volunteers, Mary set out Labour’s five point plan to cut food bank use if the party wins the forthcoming General Election.
The policies of the current Tory-led government have seen and explosion in food bank use across the country, from 61,468 people receiving emergency food aid in 2010-11 to 913,138 in 2013-14 from the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network.
According to the Trust 83% of food back referrals are due to the benefits sanction regime introduced by the Coalition Government, with families struggling to make ends meet or even put food on the table. Across the North East last year 59,146 people needed the help of Trussell Trust food banks.
During the visit Mary Creagh set out Labour’s Five Point Plan to reduce food bank dependency, a Labour government would tackle low pay, raising the minimum wage to at least £8 an hour by 2020, promoting a living wage and ending exploitative zero hours contracts and ensure a co-ordinated approach to food policy ending the current chaos where no minister is responsible for food bank dependency.
Labour will set a target to reduce the number of people who cite delays or mistakes with their benefits payments as a reason for using food banks by the end of their first year in office, abolish targets for benefits sanctions and ensure protections are in place for the most vulnerable in society and abolish the Bedroom Tax, which has hit over half a million people, pushing many into debt and through the doors of food banks.
Anna Turley, Labour’s candidate for Redcar said:
“The fact that there are now six food banks a week in the Redcar constituency, which have given emergency food to over 900 people in the last three months alone, is an absolute disgrace. The huge rise in food bank use under the Tories and Lib Dems shows that their unfair welfare policies are letting down the most vulnerable in our society.
“Nobody should have to rely on emergency help to put food on the table. I welcome Labour’s plan to tackle food poverty and end the Tory and Lib Dem policies that have driven hundreds of thousands of people to seek help from food banks.”
Mary Creagh, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development said:
“The volunteers and staff at the food bank do a great job and provide, sadly, a much needed service. It speaks volumes for current Tory Lib Dem government that they have created such a huge poverty crisis in this country over five short years. We need to make sure that everybody has the security of being able to afford safe, nutritious and affordable food. Food banks should never become a permanent feature of British society.
“Labour has set out a range of policies to ensure that emergency food aid becomes just that and not an everyday reality for thousands, including raising the minimum wage, tackling delayed benefits payments and targets for benefits sanctions and abolishing the unfair bedroom tax which has hit over half a million people.”