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Government Distances Itself From Tory MP's Claim That People Using Foodbanks Can't Budget

Government Distances Itself From Tory MP's Claim That People Using Foodbanks Can't Budget
3 min read

The government has distanced itself from claims made by a Tory MP that record high food bank usage is caused by people not being able to cook or budget properly.

Speaking in the Commons on Tuesday during a debate on the Queen’s Speech, Ashfield MP Lee Anderson claimed there is not a "massive use for food banks in this country”.

Anderson suggested that those who know how to budget and cook properly should only need to spend 30p per day to cook meals.

His comments sparked major criticism that the government and Conservative party is out of touch on the cost-of-living crisis.

"We've got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they cannot cook a meal from scratch" the Tory MP told the chamber.

Speaking on Sky News this morning, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins distanced her party from Anderson’s comment, which she believed “does not reflect the work of the government”.

“I think he was talking about his own local foodbank and how the foodbank was trying to offer not just immediate help with the provision of food but also longer-term help,” Atkins said.

“I’ve got community groups in my constituency that really try to wrap their arms around people and look after them and help to address the various aspects that may be causing difficulties,” she added.

Atkins emphasised that she “absolutely” disagrees with the assertion that the poor cannot cook, but sought to defend her parliamentary colleague. 

“Having watched the debate I’m not actually sure that’s what Lee was saying,” the minister said.

“When we look at the work of the government, we have tried not just to give immediate help with issues such as energy costs – we know that energy costs are really fueling great worries and problems for people as indeed they are across the world – but also we’re trying to offer longer term solutions.”

On Tuesday afternoon the acclaimed chef and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe described Anderson’s assertion as “abhorrent”.

"It's tedious how often I have to have this conversation with various Conservative MPs who've said the latest ill-thought through and frankly atrocious thing about people living in poverty,” Monroe told LBC.

"It's not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country... it's the lack of resources, it's the lack of finances," she added.

Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of NatWest bank, today suggested that the poorest in the UK will need to reduce their discretionary spending by 20% to deal with rapid inflation and increasing energy prices.

Davies told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that to ease the cost-of-living crisis, government should focus on increasing benefits rather than “cross the board” tax cuts.

“Tax cuts are difficult to target in quite the same way,” Davies said.

“A tax cut on the basic rate will apply to everybody, I will benefit, you will benefit and probably we’re not the most deserving causes here,” he added.

“In the present circumstances it looks to me as though the benefit system would be the place to look.”

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