Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick wants the government to mitigate the rising cost of living


- Credit: Archant

One of my last votes of 2013 was on a very important issue close to my heart. The motion was on the growing number of people who are living in food poverty and relying on food banks.

According to Trussell Trust, one of the major food bank providers, the number of people using food banks has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 since April this year, a third of whom are children.

There are, of course, a number of reasons for this significant increase in food poverty.

It’s not clear-cut and issues like high unemployment, cuts to services and changes to benefits are all contributing to a serious squeeze on living standards.

I know that many people who work at food banks have also highlighted that the recent increase in Job Seekers Allowance sanctions is having a big impact on demand.

In voting for the motion I agreed that the government needs to do much more to address this growing problem.

Our first step must be a range of measures to mitigate the rising cost of living, including a temporary freeze on energy prices, reversing the spare rooms subsidy, helping to boost wages by incentivising employers to pay a living wage and introducing a water affordability scheme to help households struggling to pay their bills.

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I know that many have to do more with less at the moment and they feel increasingly angry at a government which isn’t helping them.

I think we can all agree that if we’re going to change this we need to start with those most in need.

Food banks are a last hope for many and a good place to start if we are going to turn things around.

In 2014 I want to work closer than ever before with food banks and the many services in Poplar and Limehouse which are giving people a hand.