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Dive Deeper:
Tory MP refuses to apologise for ‘common sense’ claim food bank users can’t cook properly
Education will let people ‘fend for themselves’, says Lee Anderson – as his £220,000 expenses claim emerges
Notts MP Lee Anderson defends food banks comments after saying people use them because they 'cannot cook properly'
He was backed by Conservative MP for Mansfield Ben Bradley
Tory MP urged to apologise over claim food bank users ‘cannot cook properly’
Labour branded his remarks ‘beyond belief’, whilst the Liberal Democrats described them as ‘disgraceful’ and the SNP ‘reprehensible’.
Tory MP : People use food banks because they cannot budget or cook properly
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson made the remarks during a debate on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons.
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Tory MP claims no ‘massive use’ for food banks, saying people unable to cook and budget ‘properly’
‘We’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch’
Minister distances Government from Tory MP Lee Anderson’s food bank comments
The MP for Ashfield is facing a backlash for saying people use food banks because they ‘cannot cook properly’ and…
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Tory MP Lee Anderson defends saying food bank users ‘cannot cook properly’

By Martina Bet
Getty Images

A Conservative MP has doubled down on his controversial comments claiming poor people use food banks because they “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

Lee Anderson sparked widespread outrage by claimed there is not “this massive use for food banks”, urging Labour MPs to visit a charity in his Ashfield constituency where people get cooking lessons.

Mr Anderson was unapologetic when asked about his remarks on Thursday – claiming that people “would be able to fend for themselves” with the right education.

The Tory MP told Times Radio: “There are generations of people there who simply haven’t got the skills to budget properly and go shopping and do a proper weekly shop, like we did back in the day.”

He added: “The point I was making was that there are a lot of people out there that with the right help, and the right support, and the right education, they would be able to fend for themselves.”

Mr Anderson said he was not “being a nasty Tory”, before adding: “I’m glad that it’s caused all this fuss. Because it brings that debate out.”

Asked why his comments had sparked such a huge reaction, he said: “Because I’m talking common sense. It’s as simple as that. I’m getting a lot of emails of support. The left will obviously jump on this [and] the mainstream media.”

He added: “I’ll stick to my point … There is a massive problem in this country where people simply cannot cook.”

It comes as it emerged that Mr Anderson claimed almost £220,000 in expenses in a single year. The sum was slightly higher than the average £203,000 claimed by MPs. His biggest cost was on staffing at £165,215, followed by £33,144 for office costs.

Labour branded Mr Anderson’s remarks “beyond belief”, while the Liberal Democrats described them as “disgraceful” and the SNP said they were “crass”.

The TUC insisted the comments showed “how out of touch Conservative MPs and ministers are with the cost-of-living emergency”.

The Trussell Trust food bank network also rejected the idea that education was the main problem. Sumi Rabindrakumar, head of policy, told The Independent: “Food bank need in the UK is about lack of income, not food.”

The Trussell Trust network distributed more than 2.1 million emergency food parcels – a 14 per cent increase compared to same period in 2019-20.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) has written to the chancellor Rishi Sunak to warn that they are close to “breaking point” from an unsustainable surge in demand during the cost of living crisis.

Food bank volunteers prepare parcels in Edinburgh (Getty Images)

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins condemned her colleague’s comments on Thursday. “That’s not right – I do not agree with him,” she told Sky News about his remarks.

The Tory minister added: “I have said I don’t agree with him. This is not the view of me or anyone else in government. I really appreciate the work of food banks across the country.”

However, Mr Anderson was backed by fellow Conservative MP Ben Bradley, who said there is a problem with “basic education” and “poor basic skills around cooking and budgeting”.

The MP for Mansfield added: “if you don’t know as a parent how to do things and you find that cycle of poverty and it is important to break into that at some stage with the kind of education Lee is talking about.”

Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy told Sky News: “We need to stop this patronising rubbish about this being the fault of people who are working harder than ever before.”

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Dive Deeper:
Tory MP refuses to apologise for ‘common sense’ claim food bank users can’t cook properly
Education will let people ‘fend for themselves’, says Lee Anderson – as his £220,000 expenses claim emerges
Notts MP Lee Anderson defends food banks comments after saying people use them because they 'cannot cook properly'
He was backed by Conservative MP for Mansfield Ben Bradley
Tory MP urged to apologise over claim food bank users ‘cannot cook properly’
Labour branded his remarks ‘beyond belief’, whilst the Liberal Democrats described them as ‘disgraceful’ and the SNP ‘reprehensible’.
Tory MP : People use food banks because they cannot budget or cook properly
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson made the remarks during a debate on the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Tory MP claims no ‘massive use’ for food banks, saying people unable to cook and budget ‘properly’
‘We’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch’
Minister distances Government from Tory MP Lee Anderson’s food bank comments
The MP for Ashfield is facing a backlash for saying people use food banks because they ‘cannot cook properly’ and…
Get all your news in one place