A senior Labour politician has spoken of her dismay that so many working people are living in poverty during a visit to the Ebenezer Centre food bank, Halifax.
Maria Eagle, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was on the campaign trail to support Labour PPC Holly Lynch to hear from some of the food bank’s users and volunteers.
Ms Eagle said she was inspired by the hard work being done at the food bank by its volunteers and the stories from users who turned their lives around from being in prison or living on the streets.
She said: “Relying on food banks has gone up from 41,000 to almost a million.
“I’ve been going around the country to find out why there has been such a big increase in food bank use.
“About 60 per cent of people who go to food banks go there because of delays in benefit payments or benefit sanctions.
“A fifth of people who go to food banks nationally are in work, but they don’t get paid enough to afford their food when something goes wrong.”
She said that zero-hours contracts and the Spare Room Subsidy - known as the Bedroom Tax - have contributed towards the increase in food poverty.
She said: “We’ve got to get rid of the bedroom tax on day one of a Labour government because it punishes disabled people.
“We’re the sixth richest country in the world, we shouldn’t be having a million people having to rely on food aid.”
Ms Lynch added: “When I came here and saw that there were children and families going hungry, that was one of the biggest motivating factors for me to stand as an MP.
“The food banks locally need our support, they need donations so they can see and plan their future and the support they can offer on a monthly basis, and they need someone who’s going to fight for them nationally,” she said.