York & North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire council's food bank grant criticised

A councillor in Ripon, North Yorkshire, has said a local food bank should not be given a council grant because there is no poverty in the city.

Independent councillor David Todd opposed the £1,000 grant claiming people would spend the money they saved on food on alcohol and cigarettes.

Mr Todd said the grant would "subsidise people's lifestyles".

But Alec Lutton, the organiser of the local food bank, said there were people in need in the city.

Mr Todd said the grant money should be spent on "worthwhile causes".

"In a small city like Ripon where there is no homelessness I don't think they are needed," he said.

'Grants cut'

"On the Monday night meeting we were deciding on grants and there were a lot of worthwhile causes having their grants cut, and some such as Saint Michael's Hospice got no money at all.

"And I disagreed with a £1,000 going to a food bank in Ripon which I don't think is necessary."

He added: "I'm not saying there's no poor people, but poverty is a different thing from being poor."

"If you are a down and out, if you're homeless, you're really poor.

"If you've got a house to live in, food on the table, money coming in, you're not.

"You might be poor but you're not poverty stricken."

'Benefits trap'

The latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government estimate there are eight rough sleepers in the Harrogate council area, which covers Ripon.

Mr Lutton, who runs the Bread of Life Foodbank, said many people in the city relied on emergency food parcels.

"We are not dealing with homelessness per se," he said.

"We're dealing with those in need and they aren't necessarily homeless.

"They're the ones in their houses that have children and get caught up in the benefits trap.

"They can't get to the benefit office because they have to go to Harrogate to sign on."

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