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Tory MP Lee Anderson claims people reliant on foodbanks ‘cannot cook or budget properly’

‘The idea that the problem is cooking skills and not 12 years of government decisions that are pushing people into extreme poverty is beyond belief,’ Labour's shadow work and pensions minister says

TORY MP Lee Anderson was slammed today after claiming there was no “massive use” for foodbanks in Britain and that people who relied on the service “cannot cook or budget properly.”

Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, invited the opposition benches in the Commons to visit a foodbank in his constituency to “see the brilliant scheme we have got in place: when people come for a food parcel, they have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course.”

Labour’s shadow work and pensions minister Karen Buck said that “out of touch” doesn’t even come close to describing his comments.

She said: “The idea that the problem is cooking skills and not 12 years of government decisions that are pushing people into extreme poverty is beyond belief.”

Trussell Trust head of policy Sumi Rabindrakumar said people visiting foodbanks are having to skip meals to feed their children and requesting foods that do not need to be heated as they cannot afford to switch on the oven.

She told the Star: “For millions of families on the very lowest incomes, this isn’t just a cost-of-living crisis, it’s about the cost of surviving.

“If people don’t have enough money in their pockets, cooking from scratch won’t keep the lights on or put food on the table.”

“Our research shows that people at foodbanks have on average just £57 a week to live on after housing costs, and no amount of budget management or cooking classes will make this stretch to cover council tax, energy bills, food and all the other essentials we all need to get by.”

Ms Rabindrakumar urged the government to bring benefits in line with “the true cost of living.”

The comments came as economists warned that about 1.3 million households in Britain will struggle to pay their food and energy bills amid a deepening cost-of-living crisis.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research called for the government to offer emergency support as it predicted that more than 250,000 households will “slide into destitution” next year, with the total number in extreme poverty set to hit over one million unless urgent action is taken.

It said Chancellor Rishi Sunak should raise universal credit payments by £25 per week and give a one-off £250 cash payout to Britain’s 11.3 million lower-income households.

But Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove ruled out an emergency Budget today, insisting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion of more help to ease the cost-of-living crisis was “over-interpreted” and that claims of a split between Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson was “overinflated.”

Mr Johnson came under fire after he failed to use the Queen’s Speech to announce fresh help. He suggested that he and Mr Sunak would announce more “in the days to come.”

But the Treasury quickly shot down this suggestion, while No 10 conceded that more support should not be expected in the “next few days.”

Shadow economic secretary to the treasury Tulip Siddiq called on the government to urgently bring in an emergency Budget, adding: “This isn’t a game.

“That disagreements between the Prime Minister and his Cabinet members are getting in the way of tackling the cost-of-living crisis just shows how out of touch and out of ideas they are.”

Labour MP Richard Burgon called the institute’s estimates further heart-breaking evidence of the hardship facing communities.

He told the Star: “In an emergency you need an emergency response, yet the Tory government is standing idly by and refusing to act.

“We urgently need to get more financial support into the pockets of the millions of people having to choose between heating or eating.

“That’s why I have put down an amendment to the Tory Queen’s Speech for a wealth tax Bill that would raise billions on the very wealthiest in our society to create an emergency fund to support people through this deepening social crisis.”

End Fuel Poverty Coalition co-ordinator Simon Francis said: “People in every city, town and village in the country are unable to afford to heat their homes, or are relying on foodbanks to keep meals on the table.

“Meanwhile, companies are making obscene profits off their misery and the government continues to sit on its hands.”

Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said that the figures revealed the urgent need to help those being drawn into poverty and to “redesign our unjust economy” so that everyone can lead a dignified life.

He told the Star: “This week’s Queen’s Speech shows that the UK government still needs to find the courage and compassion to make the changes people so desperately need.

“That needs to change urgently.”

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