Lee Anderson Says Families Are 'Abusing' Food Banks Because He Sees Them In McDonald's

Lee Anderson:
Lee Anderson:

Lee Anderson: "I don’t want to stop the children going for a treat once in a while but it is all about priorities."

Lee Anderson has said some families are “abusing” food banks because he sees people getting help in fast food restaurants as well.

The outspoken deputy chairman of the Conservative Party closed a Westminster Hall debate on tackling poverty and the cost of food to add to his previous criticism of struggling households.

Anderson, who represents Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, has previously attracted criticism for suggesting that people in the UK use food banks because they “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

Anderson, who was been branded “30p Lee” after claiming food banks are not really necessary because people can cook meals for 30p a day, said on Wednesday that people were using food banks for their “weekly shop”.

He went on to claim he has seen one family being helped with charity “in McDonald’s two or three times a week” as he lamented their “priorities”.

He told MPs: “We have got this culture now in some of these deprived areas where people are so dependent on food banks it is like a weekly shop for them.

“One particular family I was helping, really helping, and they were going to the food bank two or three times a week to get their groceries and then, you know, I see them in McDonald’s two or three times a week.

“I am thinking, my goodness, I don’t want to stop the children going for a treat once in a while but it is all about priorities. If you are really struggling for money and you are going to a food bank two or three times a week, you shouldn’t be going out for fast food, takeaways every week. You shouldn’t be doing that.

“Food banks are being abused. Constituents tell me every single day, now they are either making it up or telling lies or whatever, but they are abused. They are abused, food banks are abused by people who don’t need the food banks – we should target the food banks.”

As other MPs protested, the Ashfield MP added: “You can shake your head all you want.”

Labour MP Ian Byrne, one of the members to indicate dissent, later hit out at the “demonisation of those in food poverty”, which is an “act of political cowardice”.

In an interview on the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast, also on Wednesday, Anderson has said that people were “more resourceful” in the past, comparing his family garden growing up to modern food banks.

He argued that there was a “different culture” when it came to work and earning money in the 1970s.

He added: “My dad always said to me – if you need more money, go and work a weekend shift, do a bit of overtime.

“It wasn’t ‘complain on Facebook or Twitter or go and do a TikTok video or just complain to government’. It was your responsibility – if you want to have children, you pay for them. If you want nice things, you pay for them.”