People use food banks because they can’t budget or cook, claims Tory MP
People rely on food banks because they do not know how to budget or cook, a Conservative MP has claimed.
Speaking on Wednesday during a debate on the Queen’s Speech, Lee Anderson said there was “no massive use” for the scheme and people could cook for themselves for as little as 30p a day.
Mr Anderson urged “everybody” on the Labour benches to visit his constituency of Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, where he said residents had to register for a budgeting course and cooking course before they received food parcels.
“What we do at the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he said. “We can make a meal for about 30 pence a day, and this is cooking from scratch.”
Asked by Alex Cunningham, a Labour MP, whether food banks should be “necessary” in Britain, Mr Anderson, a former miner who defected from Labour to the Tories in 2018, replied: “I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.
“We’ve got generation after generation that cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch, they cannot budget, the challenge is there. Come to Ashfield, come to a real food bank that’s making a real difference to people’s lives.”
The Trussell Trust charity handed out 2.54 million emergency food parcels between April 2020 and March last year, almost one million of which went to children.
Earlier this year, the Trust said it had given out more than two million food parcels in the 2021-22 financial year, noting that demand had increased by 81 per cent in the last five years.
Christian Wakeford, the Labour MP for Bury South who defected from the Conservatives in January, quoted Mr Anderson's comments with the words: “Reasons I left the Conservatives, number 378.”
Karen Buck, the Labour MP and the shadow work and pensions minister, said: “In the world where people actually live, we now hear daily stories of families going without food and others unable to turn their ovens on in fear of rising energy bills.
“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.”
Mr Anderson was defended by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, who wrote: “I had a hysterical reaction to similar common-sense remarks on this during the general election – I then won by a mile.”
Mr Clarke-Smith argued in December 2019 it was “simply not true” Britain was “some kind of country in crisis” and accused the Left of using food banks as a “political weapon”.