Tories deny county poverty crisis despite foodbank figures

By Beth Sharp Wednesday 22 January 2014 Updated: 26/01 19:21

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Buy photos » It is estimated one million people will need support from a food bank in 2014. (s)

CONSERVATIVE county councillors claimed there was not a growing crisis of poverty within Worcestershire despite a surge in people using food banks.

Their views came at the full council meeting last Thursday (January 16) when Labour members put forward a motion to look into how Worcestershire County Council could help those running and using food banks.

Councillors agreed to look into how more help and support could be given to those running and using food banks but members of the Tory group refused to accept there was a growing poverty crisis within the county.

Figures show that, in a matter of months, the number of registered food banks in Worcestershire has almost tripled.

An estimated 46,000 adults and 20,000 children went hungry over Christmas in England - tripled from last year.

The amount of people using food banks is 12 times more than it was in 2010 - half of the recipients are in full-time work.

Worcestershire County Council's Labour leader, Coun Peter McDonald, said the area was beginning to witness a poverty similar to that in the post-war years.

And he added, the sooner the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board got on with developing a long-term support plan the better.

"The fact is the only boom under this Government has been food banks and pay-day loans.

"Over 1,000 or so distribution points serve working families, who have no money left for food once they have paid exorbitant rent and fuel bills.

"Counties across the country are reporting rises in the thefts of basic food items like bread, cheese and milk," he said.

Conservative Councillor Lucy Hodgson argued that many food banks, set up by churches, had plenty of volunteers and were operating very well without the county council's help.

"I really can't see where we as a county can really help with this," she added.

Conservative Councillor John Campion, added: "I don't agree that there is a crisis within this county of poverty.

"We are seeing the economy growing, we are seeing more people in work and we are seeing the economy recover - those are the facts."

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