Labour councillor flares up at Banbury MP after she 'defends use of food banks' as figures show 2,000 households in Cherwell are going without food
The Banbury Labour Party has criticised MP Victoria Prentis after she defended use of foodbanks in Parliament.
Cllr Sean Woodcock, Labour leader on Cherwell District Council, said nearly 2,000 households in the district are going hungry.
New analysis from Cherwell Labour, based on research by the Food Foundation reveals the staggering extent of food insecurity as the cost of living crisis deepens, he said.
It shows 1,998 households in Cherwell going a whole day without eating; 3,052 in Cherwell are not eating even when hungry because they cannot afford to eat; 4,884 in Cherwell are eating smaller meals or skipped eating because they cannot afford food and across the country more than a million adults are forced to go more than a day without eating
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"These come after Environment Minister and Banbury’s own MP, Victoria Prentis, was criticised for comments defending the use of foodbanks to 'help with expenditure' in a debate in Parliament," he said.
In an opposition day debate, Mrs Prentis said: “Food... is often a smaller part of the household expenditure pot but it is a part because there are sometimes food charities to help with expenditure, a part where other help can be sourced."
Commenting on Mr Woodcock's statistics, Mrs Prentis said the recent Food Security Report includes a chapter on household food security, and the Government is working to help those that need it.
Mr Woodcock said the food poverty figures come ahead of an enormous squeeze on living standards this spring, with energy prices set to spiral by £693, and the Conservative government raising National Insurance income by £13bn.
He said the hike matches the £4.3bn the government has written off to fraudsters plus the £8.7bn in losses for PPE that doesn’t work.
"Ministers have refused to bring in Labour’s proposed energy plan which would save £600 for those struggling the most. Labour’s plan would be funded by a one-off windfall tax on North Sea Oil and Gas producers who have profited from price rises. In the last week Shell announced annual profits of $19bn, BP announced annual profits of $12.8bn," he said.
“The cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control, yet instead of offering the support families in Cherwell need, the Conservatives are wasting our money and raising our taxes – just when we can least afford it.
“Nearly 2,000 families in Cherwell are now having to go more than a day without food – many more aren’t able to eat when they are hungry because they simply cannot make ends meet.
“Labour has suggested a sensible plan to support families – funded by fair taxes on the multi-billion profits of oil and gas producers, but sadly the Conservatives are either too mired in chaos and scandal or too incompetent to act. That has to change.”
Mrs Prentis told the Banbury Guardian: “Food prices fluctuate in any given year. Recent pressures have been sustained, so we have taken action. We have put in place a £9.1 billion energy package and a £500 million Household Support Fund to help the lowest income families.
"Our multi-billion Plan for Jobs is helping more people into work, and we have boosted the National Living Wage. Our recent Food Security Report includes a chapter on household food security, and we are working across government to help those that need it.”
Mr Woodcock said: "It doesn't surprise me to hear Conservative MPs defending food banks given that they are largely a creation of a decade of Conservative government. Nevertheless, I did think Victoria had the good sense to realise that people having to use them in one of the world's wealthiest countries is not a good thing."