Green MEP slams ‘broken’ Tory economy and Universal Credit as foodbank usage in South East soars

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, has slammed the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit and the rise of insecure work as the latest figures reveal a 15% rise in foodbank usage across the South East.

The data from the Trussell Trust recorded 123,103 emergency food packages handed out to people in need across the South East between March 2017 and April 2018.

The findings of Mr Taylor’s own foodbank report released earlier this year, Escalating Hunger in the South East, revealed a 20% increase in foodbank usage across the region in 2017.

The latest Trussell Trust report finds that low income and benefits issues are the overwhelming factors driving people in the South East, and across the UK, to rely on emergency food parcels.

The report comes the day after figures from the ONS showed that there are now 1.8 million Brits relying on precarious, low-paid zero-hours contracts, a rise of 100,000 since 2017.

The Trussell Trust’s analysis of foodbank users in its accompanying ‘Left Behind‘ report, however, finds Universal Credit and the failure of benefits to keep pace with the rising costs of everyday essentials, such as food, are the main reasons why more and more people find themselves turning to foodbanks.

Responding to the latest figures, My Taylor, who visited Redhill foodbank at St Matthew’s Church in Surrey earlier this year where foodbank usage increased 123% in 2017, said:

“The Government can no longer deny the hugely harmful effects, exacerbated by the inflationary impacts of its shambolic approach to Brexit, of both its disastrous rollout of a Universal Creditbenefits shakeup that is seeing the most vulnerable in our society forced to survive on less and less and its support for a broken economy that encourages the growth of insecure and low-paid work.”

“Foodbanks are a lifeline to those in desperate need across the South East but, at the same time, they continue to be a stain on this Government’s record on poverty and inequality. Conservative policies have, over the last year alone, been largely responsible for pushing almost 20,000 more people, including 5,000 children, to rely on foodbanks in the South East.”

“The Trussell Trust report once again exposes the shameful side of the British economy, where, in the fifth largest economy in the world, there are seven million people from working households living below the poverty line and the number of people sleeping rough has increased by 169%while homelessness continues to soarIn the South East, there are now more than 27,000 people without a home. ”

“As the rollout of Universal Credit continues, as welfare cuts and freezes ensure benefits fail to keep pace with rising costs and as insecure and underpaid work increases, there is little hope the situation will improve under the current Tory administration. Worse still, Ministers have already moved to deny the evidence rigorously collected and presented in this report; denial will not improve the lives of those suffering most at the hands of this Government.”

“Some will say that poverty is inevitable, no matter what you do. Greens reject this. For us, poverty is political and its elimination will always be a top priority.”