Secretary of state at the department for work and pensions (DWP) Thérèse Coffey has given a sickening response to an important question about foodbanks and inequality.
I just asked the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions about the gross injustice of nurses relying on food banks while the rich get richer.
Her response? She called food banks a "perfect way" to meet the challenges of those in poverty.
The Tories are totally out of touch.
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) January 27, 2020
Coffey has actually bragged about visiting foodbanks. She also completely failed to answer Sultana’s question:
I visited a similar food bank in my own constituency that has been working together with food redistribution schemes. Marrying the two is a perfect way to try to address the challenges that people face at difficult times in their lives.
She went further, calling people forced to use foodbanks “customers” as though they simply pop out to do a nice bit of consumerism.
People’s response on social media said it all:
“Fourth emergency service”
Sultana’s question was spot on. On 26 January, for example, BristolLive reported that one foodbank volunteer stated that “four [or] five nurses visited the foodbank in one week”. The volunteer asked:
How can it be that those who work tirelessly to take care of others need to use foodbanks in order to eat?
Yet Coffey’s response also failed to acknowledge that volunteer-run foodbanks rely on donations. All this to support people living in poverty and struggling to eat as a result of ten years of Tory-led austerity, welfare cuts, and now Universal Credit. As for acknowledging the rise of “fat-cat” salaries and widening inequality, forget it.
In April 2019, the Trussell Trust revealed that foodbank use in the UK had hit a record high. “Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019” it gave out “1.6 million” food parcels, a rise of 19% from the previous year, and over “half a million of these went to children”.
Coffey’s response showed just how far Conservative cuts have normalised foodbank use in the UK. Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said:
in just 10 years emergency charitable food aid has been effectively normalised as a fourth emergency service in the UK.
The DWP is not fit for purpose. And Coffey’s latest response highlights just how dangerous it truly is.
Featured image via Wikimedia – Chris McAndrew / Fréa Lockley
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?