MP wrong over food bank claim

Sunday Sun - - News - By Mike Kelly Reporter mike.kelly@ncj­me­dia.co.uk

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.

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