Tracey Culham broke down on national television on 25 April. Speaking about using food banks on Victoria Derbyshire, she said “I need to let the nation know what it’s like”:
"It's degrading, especially when you've worked all your life"
Tracey had to use food banks because her Universal Credit was delayed. pic.twitter.com/kb6b4osTBg
— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) April 25, 2017
Culham said using food banks is “the most degrading thing”, especially when “you’ve worked all your life”. Her intervention on national television is a glimpse of the reality for many under the Conservative austerity programme.
Food poverty has skyrocketed under the Conservatives
The Conservative government is directly responsible for pushing ordinary people into food poverty. The number of three-day food packages sent out by the Trussell Trust alone increased from 40,898 to 1,182,954 between 2010 and 2016-17. That’s a record-breaking increase of 2,792% since the Conservatives came to power.
But it’s worse than that. A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger estimates that over half the emergency food issued comes from organisations independent from the Trussell Trust’s figures. This means the real numbers are much higher.
The government tries to downplay the connection between its policies and food bank use, saying that it’s “complex”. But, as common sense suggests, an Oxford University study confirms a “robust link” between the stripping down of the welfare state and food bank use.
Recently, the government’s flagship welfare overhaul to Universal Credit has only added to the chaos, leading to an even greater spike in food bank use.
And the public spending cuts are only deepening under May’s premiership. Her Chancellor, Philip Hammond, recommitted to austerity in his budget speech [10:20]. The worst of that austerity is coming through under May, with cuts of £51.4bn between 2015 and 2019.
A breakdown of the top reasons for food banks
The Trussell Trust also produced a breakdown of the top reasons people are using food banks:
Responding to the chart, Jeremy Corbyn said:
Number one cause of people using foodbanks is low-income. Labour’s real Living Wage of £10/hour will eradicate poverty wages
Labour is also committed to ending austerity and transitioning to an investment-based economy. The impact of such an economic approach would go beyond helping vulnerable people like Culham. The returns on investment would bring down public debt and facilitate economic activity. But on top of that, the new economy would be civilised. People wouldn’t be breaking down over a lack of food on live television.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. People can call 0300 200 3500 if they don’t already have a national insurance number.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via Twitter screenshot
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?