Tory MEP Daniel Hannan claims food banks have become more common because smart phones have as well

Daniel Hannan MEP speaking at a fringe event organised by Brexit Central, during the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday September 30th, 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/ EMPICS.
Daniel Hannan MEP speaking at a fringe event organised by Brexit Central, during the Conservative Party annual conference last year. (PA)

A Tory MEP has claimed food banks are not a measure of poverty and have become “more common” for the same reason that smart phones have.

Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP for South-east England and one of the founders of Vote Leave, appeared on Newsnight last night, alongside David Willets, member of the Hose of Lords, and Faiza Shaheen, prospective Labour party candidate.

In an exchange about how trade unions and workers’ rights have changed, things became heated between the panel and Mr Hannan talked about food bank usage, claiming that they were invented 20 years ago and now “we are living better”.

He said: “Food banks were invented 20 years ago.”

“The Trussell Trust had two food banks in 2004, so of course they have become more common for the same reason smart phones have become more common.

“They didn't exist before, this is not a measure of poverty.”

The comments sparked a swift reaction from campaigners, with the Trussell Trust, a charity that co-ordinates the only nationwide network of food banks in the UK, countering Mr Hannan’s claims by providing a graph showing the year-on-year increase of food bank usage.

They attribute the upward trend to the failings of Universal Credit, especially making claimants wait up to five weeks for their first payment.

In their own research, the Trussell Trust found that their food bank use increased by 52% in a year in areas where Universal Credit had been rolled out.

Last week, they revealed almost 1.6 million emergency supplies have been handed out by food banks in the past year, with a third going to children.

In 2001, Tony Blair pledged to end child poverty by 2020.

But according to the Child Poverty Action Group in 2018, poverty now affects around one in four children and food parcels from food banks are a way cash-strapped parents can afford to feed their families.

A food parcel from one of the Trussell Trust’s food banks provides a minimum of three day’s worth of “nutritionally balanced, non-perishable” tinned and dried foods, which usually includes things like cereal, soup, pasta and tinned vegetables.

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