Food for thought


Alf Dubs questions whether Ministers – David Cameron included – understand the real impact of their pernicious welfare policies

I recently visited a food bank and was impressed by the commitment of the staff and volunteers working there. Based in central London, little more than a stone’s throw from Parliament, this food bank has been open for a year and, during the time I spent there, was busy providing a most necessary service for desperate people coming in for help and support.

The Prime Minister has been asked a number of times by Labour MPs whether he has visited – or intends to visit – a food bank. So far his answers, given at PMQs, have been rather opaque, managing to respond to the question without actually answering it properly. 

Today, at daily question time in the Lords, I will ask how many government ministers across both Houses of Parliament have visited their local food bank – indeed, any food bank. I would hope the answer I receive confirms at least a few of them have. For those who haven’t however, David Cameron included, I wonder if they actually realise the poverty and despair that is driving people to go out and look for free food.

All of this of course, must be set against the cuts in the welfare budget now taking place, with much worse to come from April and over the months that follow – especially for the poorest in our country, including those with disabilities. 

Alongside this, it is estimated that announcements made in the Budget and the Autumn Statement mean that many low or middle income households across Britain are going to lose out to the tune of over £500 a year. Meanwhile the richest in society are about to get a £3bn tax cut, with 8,000 millionaires personally receiving a Coalition kickback of at least £40,000 in their taxes. So much for Mr Cameron’s 2010 election mantra of “We’re all in this together”.

As those at the sharp end of society continue to suffer from the negative impact of the government’s more pernicious policies, food banks are set to see a busier time as they become the fall back option for more and more people facing cuts to their living standards.

Lord Alf Dubs is a backbench Labour Peer

Published 5th February 2013


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