MPs yesterday debated the growing use of foodbanks in Britain, but like key Government ministers, Cambridge Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert was absent. Labour MPs were demanding to know why the Government’s own research into the dramatic rise in use of foodbanks still hasn’t been published, despite being available to them since June.
Cambridge Labour Parliamentary candidate Daniel Zeichner says that the numbers using the Cambridge foodbanks have risen dramatically, from 1200 in 2011/12 to over 2400 in 2012/13, and current usage suggests that the figure will rise to over 4000 this year. Government ministers have suggested that most usage is because of delays in receiving benefits , but the data from the Cambridge foodbank suggests that this accounts for just over a third of cases, while 13% are a consequence of cuts to benefits, and a further quarter a consequence of very low pay.
Mr Zeichner is critical of the reluctance to engage in the debate over the rising usage of foodbanks: “Cambridge is by any standards a wealthy city, but too many of our fellow citizens are being left behind. A quarter of those resorting to foodbanks in Cambridge are people in work who just aren’t paid enough to feed their families.
The Government commissioned research to find out exactly what is going on and now refuse to publish it – presumably because the conclusions are too damning . For thousands of people in and around Cambridge, this Christmas will see a continuing struggle just to put food on the table – there can be few more important issues for our representatives to be considering than this.”