Fury as Tory MP claims Brits don't need food banks they just 'can't cook properly'

11 May 2022, 15:54 | Updated: 12 May 2022, 09:13

By Megan Hinton

A Tory MP has said there is no massive need for food banks in the UK claiming Brits need to learn to "cook properly", during a debate in the House of Commons.

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Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, claimed households in Britain can make "nutritious meals" on a budget of "about 30p a day".

During the Queen's speech debate on Wednesday the Conservative said his constituency operated a "brilliant scheme" where residents accepting food donations had to register and attend budget cookery courses.

He said: "We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget. We can make a meal for about 30p a day, and this is cooking from scratch."

Intervening, Labour MP, Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), asked: "Should it be necessary to have food banks in 21st century Britain?"

To which Mr Anderson replied: "This is exactly my point. I’ll invite you personally to come to Ashfield, look at our food bank, how it works. And I’ll think you’ll see first hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.

"We've got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can't cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget. The challenge is there."

Read more: 'What the hell?': James O'Brien skewers Dartford Council leader over food bank photo

Lee Anderson said there is no massive need for food banks in the UK claiming Brits "need to learn to cook properly"
Lee Anderson said there is no massive need for food banks in the UK claiming Brits "need to learn to cook properly". Picture: Parliament TV

SNP MP Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West), the subsequent speaker in the debate, told Mr Anderson people do not use food banks because they do not know how to cook, but because "we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government".

At the beginning of her speech, Ms Cherry said: "What I will say to the previous speaker is that all of us have food banks in our constituency.

"We don't really need to visit his because we are perfectly well aware of the requirements for them. But the requirement for them is not because people don't know how to cook, it is because we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government."

Read more: Over 2m people go whole days without eating as charity slams 'failing society'

When asked by Nick Ferrari at Breakfast whether or not she agreed with her colleagues comments, Prison Minister Victoria Atkins said: "No I don’t, and the government has tried throughout our work over the last month or so to really try to address some of the real concerns that people are raising with the cost of living at the moment.

" I think, trying to be fair, Nick was explaining that the food bank, his local food bank offers not just the immediate support of food but the long term support to try and help people with budgeting.

"And look if community groups, volunteers on the ground think that there are other ways to help people when they are in contact with people then look I am not going to get in the way of volunteers know what’s best for the local community.

"We fundamentally understand this is far more complex than that."

It comes after a charity found more than two million people were going whole days without eating.

The Food Foundation found the number of people struggling to buy food rose by 57 per cent in three months.

Now 7.3 million adults live in households affected by food insecurity, including 2.6 million children, the charity's research suggested - and more than two million people have gone a whole day without eating over the past month.

A poverty expert said the figures showed "society is failing in a fundamental way", and Food Foundation executive director Anna Taylor said the data demonstrated "a much faster and steeper deterioration than we were expecting".

She said that, whilst the dire situation was preventable, it would "undoubtedly get worse" unless the Government intervened.

The research suggested one in seven adults in live homes where people have skipped meals, eaten smaller portions or gone hungry all day because they could not afford or access food.

It means 7.3 million people are struggling with food insecurity - up from 4.7 million in January.

The "chilling" figures come at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is increasingly hitting families who are facing rising utility and food prices, which are outstripping the amount by which benefits have risen.