The comments the Conservative MP Jacob Rees Mogg made on food banks hit the headlines immediately.
And little wonder.
According to this potential Tory leader, the voluntary support given to food banks is ‘rather uplifting’.
It shows ‘what a compassionate country we are’.
The only reason for the rise in the use of foodbanks is ‘that people know that they are there.’
‘Inevitably, the state can’t do everything, so I think there is good within food banks.’
The welfare state created at the end of World War Two was designed to look after its citizens from cradle to grave, to protect their social and economic well-being. Food, and having enough to eat every day of life, is clearly the most basic of needs.
Not some luxury extra.
Most people give money or volunteer their time to the Trust organising food banks not out of ‘compassion’ but out of shame and anger that food banks should be necessary in a country as wealthy as Britain.
Food banks are necessary. They should not be necessary, certainly not on the current scale, and it is within our power to change that.
Citizens Advice Scotland have been monitoring the number of requests they have received from people who have reached crisis point. Between 2012/13 and 2014/15, the number of people seeking advice on Crisis Grants has increased
134 per cent (compared to advice regarding the former scheme, Crisis Loans).
134 per cent.
More worryingly are the number of people who come to Citizens Advice bureaux having not eaten for a number of days.
We know that already. But the objective, official data makes it stark, in black and white.
Undeniable and unacceptable.
At our last meeting, the need to make allies was raised. To work across political boundaries to fight poverty.
To join together to create a wave of opposition that cannot be ignored.
To fight against a system that no longer offers a safety net, especially in crisis – and we can all fall into crisis.
To look at the bigger issues. In work poverty. Zero hour contracts. The real cost of living compared to the benefits offered.
What it takes to lift individuals and families out of poverty.
It is galvanising to be part of the Poverty Truth Commission as we endeavour to do this from our different walks of life, finding new allies.