Tory MP dismisses the need for food banks in the UK
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Ashfield MP Lee Anderson, who has been labelled as “out of touch” by opposition MPs, claimed £219,703.44 in business costs from 2020 to 2021, nearly £16,000 higher the average costs for an MP. Mr Anderson, earning £84,144 himself as a member of parliament, invited his peers in the Commons to “come to Ashfield” to experience their allegedly unique food banks.
Labour MP Alex Cunningham asked Mr Anderson: “Should it be necessary to have food banks in 21st Century Britain?”
Mr Anderson said: “My thanks to the honourable gentlemen. He makes a great point, and this is exactly my point.
“So I would like to invite you personally to Ashfield to look at our food bank and see how they work.
“I 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 cannot cook a meal from scratch, and they cannot budget. The challenge is there.
“Come. I’ll offer anybody to come. You’re sat there with glazed expressions, looking at me like I’ve landed from a different planet.
“Come. Come to Ashfield. Come next week, the week after, and see a real food bank that’s making a real difference to people’s lives.”
He added: “What we do in the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget. We can make a meal for about 30 pence a day. And this is cooking from scratch.”
Mr Anderson said subsequently that the high business costs he claimed last year were to “pay my staff wages”.
He told TalkTV: “That’s to pay my staff wages. If I didn’t pay my staff any wages, they would be using a food bank.”
A breakdown of his spending shows his biggest cost was on staffing at £165,215.27, followed by £33,144.30 on office costs and £17,650.60 on accommodation.
The average costs claimed by MPs in a calendar year is £203,880.
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Karen Buck, Labour’s shadow work and pensions minister, described Mr Anderson’s comments, especially during a cost of living crisis, as “beyond belief”.
She said: “In the world where people actually live we now hear daily stories of families going without food and others unable to turn their ovens on in fear of rising energy bills.
“The idea that the problem is cooking skills and not 12 years of government decisions that are pushing people into extreme poverty is beyond belief.”
She added: “Out of touch doesn’t even cover it.”
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