Theresa May under fire over 'complex reasons' food banks answer

Posted On: 
30th April 2017

Theresa May has come under fire from Labour, who accused the Prime Minister of failing to explain why some NHS nurses are being forced to use food banks.

Theresa May came under fire for saying there were 'complex reasons' for people using food banks

Labour's election coordinator Ian Lavery said the fact some nurses needed help to feed themselves showed "everything that's wrong with today's society". 

And he accused the Tory leader of not having the "common decency" to condemn the situation faced by public sector workers whose pay has been capped for the last six years.

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It comes after the Royal College of Nursing revealed last month that there had been a 50% rise in the number of nurses seeking financial assistance since 2010.

The RCN's chief executive, Janet Davies, said many of her members were "struggling to make ends meet, with some taking on second jobs or even turning to food banks."


Grilled on the subject this morning on the Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May replied: “There are many complex reasons why people go to foodbanks. I want to develop an economy where, yes, we have a strong economy so that we can pay for the public services people need but also we have an economy where we’re creating secure jobs and well-paid jobs and higher-paid jobs for people."

And she claimed that Labour's spending plans would mean less money available for wages in the public sector, meaning lower pay for staff such as nurses.

“But you’re only going to be able to do this if you have a government that understands the importance of that strength in the economy. If you look at the proposals the Labour party are coming forward with, they’re nonsensical proposals which simply don’t add up and would actually lead to less money being available for the National Health Service, less money being available for public sector pay and higher taxes on people.”

Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner was among those to attack Mrs May.

Mr Lavery also weighed in, telling the BBC's Sunday Politics: 

"Theresa May the Prime Minister this morning on the Marr show didn't have the common decency, courtesy or respect to condone [sic] the fact that nurses, the heroes of the NHS, have had a reduction of 14% in their wages since 2010 and are using food banks to feed themselves. Does that not say everything that's wrong with today's society?"

But he came under fire from host Andrew Neil for failing to spell out how Labour would finance its own policy commitments, which include ending the pay freeze in the public sector. 

Mr Lavery said he was "well aware" of the costings involved, but insisted people would have to wait for the party's manifesto, due on 15 May. 

"What I will say is that everything the Labour party pledges, everything we come out with, everything we roll out between now and 8 June will be fully costed, people will be very much aware of how much the costings will be, where the funding will come from, when the manifesto is published," he said.