Government 'cannot ignore food bank rise' says bishop

A bishop has said the government cannot ignore the rise in the number of food banks across the UK.

The Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, said the number of food banks had risen to "hundreds and hundreds" across the country.

He will co-chair a Parliamentary inquiry into food banks and poverty, with Labour MP Frank Field.

Bishop Thornton hoped to find "real evidence" to put to the government. The government said help was available.

'Necessary legislation'

The inquiry, led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty, will collect evidence from around the country on the causes of hunger in the UK, the procedures in place to alleviate it and it will look at the situation in other countries.

Mr Field is the chairman of the all-party group.

Bishop Thornton said: "I don't think the government can ignore the reality of this phenomenon that's now right up and down the country... places you would never imagine now have food banks.

"I hope we can bring forward real evidence which can persuade the government to say this is happening, these are the roots, and to look at what legislation might be necessary to do something about it."

'Poorest families'

A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks.

"Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with the Universal Credit making three million households better off - the majority of these from the bottom two fifths of the income scale.

"DWP also provides hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans."

In February, 43 Christian leaders, including 27 Anglican bishops, signed a letter urging David Cameron to ensure people get enough to eat.

They argued that "cutbacks and failures" in the benefits system were forcing thousands of people to use food banks.

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