Tory MP decides he wants benefits raised immediately after visit to food bank

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Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to immediately raise benefits in line with inflation after he paid a visit to his local food bank.

The veteran backbencher – a loyal ally of Boris Johnson – said he had decided that families struggling with the cost of living crisis could use some extra help from the government.

“People on the breadline cannot afford to wait until later this year,” said Mr Fabricant in a post on his website after a visit to a food bank in his Litchfield constituency.

The Tory MP said he had “very useful meeting” with the manager and volunteers at Lichfield Foodbank, and agreed action was needed to reduce so many people having to rely on food banks.

It comes in sharp contrast to fellow Tory MP Lee Anderson – who sparked outrage last week by claiming that some families use food banks because they “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

Mr Anderson told MPs there is not “this massive use for food banks” across Britain, before arguing that people “would be able to fend for themselves” with the right education.

Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has hinted at libel action against the Tory MP, who also suggested they were profiteering from the poor.

Mr Fabricant called for everyone to stop “politicising” foodbank usage, adding: “MPs of all parties should be able to work together on this.”

He also called on Mr Sunak to “uprate” benefits in line with inflation as soon as possible – revealing that he had written to both the chancellor and work and pensions secretary to urge them to act before the Autumn Budget.

Prices are rising by 7 per cent a year in the UK, with the Bank of England warning that inflation could hit 10 per cent within months.

Watch: Blackpool man describes living on £5 food shop per week amid cost of living crisis

The chancellor was condemned by opposition MPs and leading charities for rejecting calls to raise benefits by more than the 3.1 per cent increase which came into force in April.

Though Mr Fabricant suggested Mr Sunak could act before his Autumn Budget, the Resolution Foundation think tank pointed out that benefits have typically been uprated only once a year in April.

“Those on low incomes will be waiting until next April for benefits to be uprated,” said Torsten Bell, the think tank’s chief executive tweeted.

Mr Sunak said last week that the government’s “complicated” IT system would not allow him to uprate benefits further this year – although he admitted that “technical problems sound like an excuse”.

However, Deven Ghelani, director of Policy in Practice, who helped develop the universal credit system, said that “the IT is almost always an excuse”.

“Where there is a will, there is a way,” the expert told the New Statesman. “People on legacy benefits could be sent a one-off supplement.”

It comes Home Office minister Rachel Maclean comes under fire for saying people struggling with living costs should consider taking on more hours or moving to a “better” job.

Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said Ms Maclean’s remarks were “ridiculous” and showed that the government “could not be more out of touch or out of ideas”.

There have been mixed messages from the government on the idea of a windfall tax on oil and gas company profits. Mr Sunak has said he is “not naturally attracted” to the idea but “no option is off the table”.

Labour will put forward an amendment to the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas firms’ bumper profits.

Labour’s Ed Miliband, shadow climate secretary, said on Sunday that he believes the chancellor will ultimately impose a windfall tax because it is “an unanswerable case”.

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