In a recent meeting of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s Grants Board, local Tories showed a shocking attitude towards foodbanks.
Whilst looking at an application for a small grant to support a local food-bank, that has been in operation for over five years, Conservative Harry Bower, newly elected Councillor for Sherrards in Welwyn Garden City, said:
“I’m suspicious of foodbanks. I can’t help but think that they are a political thing.”
I’d like to think that the natural thought about the existence of a foodbank was “it’s a tragedy that we need foodbanks in the UK.”
They are not a political thing, but a response by the good in our society to a political decision to punish the poor and needy for the mistakes of wealth and greed.
The fact is that foodbank use has risen dramatically in recent years. In 2015/16, over 1.1 million three-day food supplies were given out by foodbanks operated by the national charity, The Trussell Trust. To put this statistic in perspective, at the peak of the financial crash, foodbank use in 20008/09 was just over forty thousand.
The people using foodbanks are not all out of work either. Around one-quarter of people accessing foodbanks last year were in work, struggling with either low wages or late payments from employers.
According to the Food Foundation, 4.7 million people have to regularly go a day without eating and a total of 8 million people struggle to put food on the table. These figures put us in the same bracket as countries such as Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia and Malta.
Let us not forget, hunger isn’t just an issue in distant parts of our country. Hunger is a real situation for people here in Welwyn Hatfield.
Instead of blaming the people that find themselves relying on foodbanks to eat and viewing the organisations that help them with suspicion, perhaps local Tories might ask their friends in Government exactly what is happening to address this increasing problem.