MP wrong over food bank claim
TORY leadership hopeful Jacob ReesMogg has been slammed for claiming the existence of food banks was hushed up by Labour in office.
Michael Nixon, chief executive of Newcastle’s West End Food Bank, which is the largest in the country, said: “You can’t hide something that didn’t exist in the first place.”
Labour was ousted after the 2010 general election and replaced by a Conservative-led Coalition.
In 2015, the Tories formed a minority government.
Mr Nixon said: “Our food bank was formed late in 2012 and opened its doors in March, 2013.”
And we can also reveal that all of the other Trussell Trust food banks in this region – Gateshead, Walker and District and Durham – opened after Labour left office.
Mr Nixon said: “Jacob Rees Mogg is just wrong. He’s running for leadership and trying to get a few sound bites out.”
Rees-Mogg, the North East Somerset MP and grassroots favourite who is being tipped to replace Theresa May, made his comments during an interview on LBC radio.
He said: “Food banks pre-date the Conservative government and, crucially, the change that took place was Michael Nixon, chief executive at the West End food bank. Inset, MP Jacob Rees-Mogg that the Conservative government allowed Jobcentre Plus to tell people that food banks existed.
“And the former Labour government would not tell them – and that was a policy decision to stop people knowing there was help available.”
Rees Mogg also said: “I think there is good within food banks and the real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they’re there, and Labour deliberately wouldn’t tell them.”
Mr Nixon said the church, which had lobbied for the welfare state to be formed, was now having to step in as it is “being dismantled” and a vital safety net for the poor is being lost.
“The church has recognised these failings and food banks have come about as a necessary response to need,” he said.
Since it opened in 2013, the West End Food Bank has given out food at an average rate of £10,000 a week.
The director of “I, Daniel Blake”, Ken Loach, and writer Paul Laverty, visited it and shot scenes in Venerable Bede church where food parcels are distributed. People who rely on the food bank and volunteers who help run it featured as extras.
During the interview, Rees-Mogg argued food banks fulfilled a vital function. He said: “I don’t think the state can do everything.
“To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens, I think is rather uplifting.”
Mr Nixon said food bank use had spiralled “in the last five or six years”.
We contacted Rees-Mogg for comment but were told he was unavailable.