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Hungry Christmas: huge increase in Food Banks a 'national disgrace'

A prominent South West economist has cited the massive increase in the use of Food Banks in the last year as evidence that our economic system is fundamentally broken.

Professor Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s finance speaker and lead South West candidate for next year’s European elections, said:

"I became an economist because I was concerned that resources should be shared fairly and so I am outraged that in the 21st century we need to have Food Banks at all. The fact that people cannot afford to put food on their tables is an indication that the economic system is fundamentally broken. It generates ever-increasing inequality and works in the interests of the wealthy and powerful rather than for the common good."

Food Banks will be discussed in Parliament on Thursday in the wake of a 170% rise in the number of people turning to them for food in the last 12 months [1]. The South West has the highest number of children using Food Banks; statistics from 2012 show that one in 120 children in the South West was fed by Food Banks [2], a figure likely to be even higher now.

The Green Party is focusing on the issue in the run up to Christmas as this is a time when spending pressures are mounting and, with wages stagnating, more families than ever are expected to use Food Banks over the festive period. Greens also blame welfare reform and cuts to welfare payments for a sharp rise in the use of Food Banks.

Dr Molly Scott Cato said:

"Hunger is haunting our communities in a way that shames us all and is particularly harsh at this time of celebration. In the sixth largest economy in the world no-one should be relying on emergency food handouts at Christmas, it’s a national disgrace. This rise in the use of Food Banks is a symptom of an economic system that categorically fails to meet the needs of ordinary people. We need Green Party solutions including the introduction of a National Living Wage, ensuring benefits are set at levels which allow people to live in dignity and investing in job creation, especially for young people."

Notes

[1] http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/oct/16/food-banks-trussel-trust-uk-data

Report from Keith Taylor Green MEP, South East: Hungry Christmas – Food Banks in the South East: http://www.keithtaylormep.org.uk/2013/12/16/hungry-christmas-introduction/

Huffington Post blog by Keith Taylor: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/keith-taylor/food-banks-uk-economy_b_4452964.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

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