Half a million resort to food banks

What a damning indictment of this government to read in the papers this morning that more than half a million people in Britain are resorting to food banks to stave off hunger and destitution.

The report “Hungry Britain” by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty makes shocking reading. We live in the seventh richest country in the world and yet hunger is forcing families to ask for help just to feed themselves. In a bitter irony, the papers also report today that a British millionaire spent £330,000 on one round of champagne in a Monaco nightclub. It would take someone on the minimum wage more than 23 years to earn £330,000 – and that’s before tax.

The government should be ashamed. At the same time as the rich are getting richer and enjoying Osborne’s tax breaks, it is targeting the poorest in our society with cuts and below inflation rises to welfare benefits as well as slashing public services.

With the cost of basic foodstuffs going up by 35% in the past five years and home heating by 63%, it is not just those on welfare who are suffering. The freeze on wages and cuts to hours has fuelled a rise in the number of working poor. UNISON’s own Welfare charity There for You has had more members turning to the union for financial support.

The message is clear – the government’s cuts agenda is driving the country deeper into economic depression. Widening the gulf between the rich and the poor leads to social unrest and urgent action is needed now. We need a government with vision, the country needs a pro-growth strategy involving job creation and a package of early investment in infrastructure, homes and the services our economy needs.