Iain Duncan Smith condemned for refusing to meet with Trussell Trust
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been condemned by food bank charities for refusing to meet with representatives on the basis that they are taking a political stance against welfare reforms.
Conservative Party ministers have been coming under fire over similar issues for a number of days now, after a Commons debate on food banks led to jeers and shouts as Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart explained how struggling Britons have been seen fighting to get to low-priced goods in her local supermarket.
Mactaggart, who went on to say that her local Tesco has had no choice but to draft in extra security to deal with the matter, had her comments drowned out by the laughter of Tory MPs. Mr Duncan Smith also left the debate early, which has led critics to speculate even further that the Conservative Party is not taking food shortages seriously.
Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, a charity who have supplied over half a million people with food parcels since April 2013, has had his requests for a meeting rebuffed with claims that the charity is attention-seeking by suggesting that welfare reforms and food shortages are linked.
“We are deeply disappointed,” said Mould, of the rebuttal, who added: “We are as open as ever to meet ministers in the hope that perhaps the new year will bring a fresh approach to what could so easily have been a fruitful dialogue.”
Even internally, Conservative Party MPs have differing views on food banks. “It is positive that people are reaching out to support other people – from church groups to community groups, to local supermarkets,” said Tory MP for Wirral West, Esther McVey.
McVey went on to suggest that Labour are to blame for the poverty that people are facing. “We are all having to pay back this £1.5 trillion debt personally which spiralled under Labour, we are all trying to live within our means…. and make sure that we pay back all our debt which happened under them.”
Conservative MP for South Thanet, Laura Sandys, disagreed about the positivity of food banks, saying: “Food banks are not the answer. They must be seen as a transitional support mechanism for families in stress at particular moments.”
The number of families reliant on food banks has jumped dramatically. In 2010 the Trussell Trust reported that 41,000 families were being fed with food parcels, which has jumped to over 500,000 people, a third of whom are children.