Soaring food bank use is ‘evidence of an inadequate welfare system’ that forces huge numbers of people into poverty, according to the Green Party.
Figures published today by the food bank charity Trussell Trust, reveal that the number of people requiring emergency food aid has risen to more than one million for the first time.
Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said: “Today’s figures from the Trussell Trust are further evidence of an inadequate welfare system that forces a huge number of people within our society to live in poverty and leaves many without any income at all.
“These latest statistics also reflect the pernicious in-work poverty that affects 1 in 5 working people.
“These figures show conclusively that our economy is failing those at the bottom whilst those at the top accumulate more and more wealth.
“The Green Party would ensure that social security payments cover the basics, and allow people to live in dignity if they’re unable to work or looking for a job. We would also raise the minimum wage to a £10 an hour Living Wage by 2020.
She said Labour’s proposals to tackle rising food bank use “don’t go far enough”.
Adding: “Yes, it’s important to end exploitative zero-hours contracts and scrap the unjust bedroom tax.
“But Labour’s plans to retain the household benefit cap and raise the minimum wage to only £8 an hour by October 2019 fail to take meaningful action to tackle the causes of poverty, and instead continue to demonise the poor.
“We need to remember that 22% of those using food banks are in work. As long as people are not paid a decent wage they can live off, and our system of social security continues to unjustly sanction those it is designed to help, food bank use will continue to rise.”
Oxfam has urged whoever forms the next Government not to ignore the fact that people are “going hungry every day”.
Oxfam’s Head of UK Poverty, Rachael Orr, said: “It’s extremely worrying to see yet another rise in the number of people being forced to visit food banks in the UK.
“Whilst these figures reveal that over a million people are using Trussell Trust food banks, we know there are many more out there who are using independent ones, not to mention the people who don’t go to food banks and are literally going without enough food.
“Whoever forms the next government can’t ignore the fact that people in the seventh richest country in world are going hungry every day.
“As a cross-party group of parliamentarians said recently, this has to be a top priority addressed urgently by whoever wins the election.”