Tory candidate says increase in food bank use is because they ‘give stuff away’
PUBLISHED: 10:24 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:38 10 December 2019
A Conservative candidate has come under fire after suggesting the increase in food bank usage over the last nine years is because ‘they give stuff away’.
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Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Tory candidate for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, said: "If you are going to say to somebody that you are going to refer them on [to a food bank], or you are going to give them something, obviously you are going to have an increase in that.
"It always, always is the way."
The hopeful was booed and received shouts of "terrible" and "shame on you" as he made the comments at a hustings event in the constituency.
One audience member can be heard asking "We're all beggars are we? All out for a freebie, are we?"
Clarke-Smith had been asked to explain the rise in food bank usage when there had also been a rise in the number of people in employment and a fall in the number of people seeking employment.
A record 1.6 million food banks parcels were given to people in the past year and the number of food parcels given out across the UK has soared by 73% in five years, according to the Trussell Trust charity.
The Trussell Trust blame the failure of Universal Credit and the five week wait before people can receive their welfare which leads to just under hald of all food bank referrals.
However, for Clarke-Smith, the rise is due to people apparently wanting give aways.
"And I'm afraid what we should not be giving is the impression that, you know, this is so widespread, that we are some sort of country in crisis, and in absolute poverty. This is simply not true," he said.
According to End Child Poverty, between 28.1% and 28.9% of children in Clarke-Smith's constituency are in poverty.
Astonishingly, Clarke-Smith is not the only Tory candidate to make such comments about foodbanks.
Last week, the Tory candidate for Broxtowe Darren Henry said food bank users 'struggle to manage their budget' and should 'take a payday loan'.
READ MORE: Tory election candidate says food bank users 'struggle to manage their budget'
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Ian Lavery, the Labour Party Chair, hit back at the Tory's comments. "It is a scandal that so many families are going hungry in one of the world's richest countries," he said.
"Food insecurity has soared in Britain since 2010, with many food bank users in employment. No one chooses to be unable to afford food. Yet Tory candidates do not care that their austerity has pushed so many people into poverty.
"In this election there is a clear choice: five more years of poverty and inequality under the Tories, or vote for Labour to end foodbank Britain and bring about real change."
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