Foodbanks in Norfolk should be able to claim European aid to help feed the hungry this Christmas, Labour has said amid claims a new fund is being “boycotted” by the government.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Charities such as the Trussell Trust, which is behind Britain’s foodbanks, could benefit from a new “European Aid to the Most Deprived” Fund, but the government wants to spend its European Union cash allocation on training and support to get people into work instead.

The call by an East of England MEP came as the House of Commons debated foodbanks yesterday with shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle claiming that the number of people relying on food aid was a damning indictment of this fovernment’s record.

She claimed that since April more than 500,000 people have relied on assistance from the 400 food banks run by the Trussell Trust charity, double the number of food banks compared to this time last year.

The Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News has teamed up with foodbanks across Norfolk, Waveney and Fenland and we are asking our readers to donate food from a shopping list, which will support the charity’s vital work to make sure no one has to go hungry, this Christmas or beyond.

Last December, our foodbanks fed more than 1,000 people – including hundreds of children – and demand this year is expected to drive that figure far higher.

British officials in Brussels said that the UK did not want to use money from the new £2.5bn fund to be used to help with the costs of running food banks on the grounds that individual member states are best placed to take charge of such funding.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are not saying no to this money but we are saying no to Europe about how it should be spent.

“If we accepted the funding it would be taken off our structural fund budget which helps disadvantaged people into work.

“This is how similar funding has been used in the past - for employment skills and social inclusion. Just to be clear we aren’t losing money”.

But Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who helped negotiate the fund as a member of the European parliament’s employment and social affairs Committee, said: “It is very sad that our government is opposing this much-needed help for foodbanks on the basis that it is a national responsibility, when in reality it has no intention of providing the help itself.

“The only conclusion is that Conservative anti-European ideology is being put before the needs of the most destitute and deprived in our society.

“Today’s debate should be used to shame a Government which is taking food out of the mouths of the hungry in to a u-turn in time for Christmas.”

Grant Habershon, project manager at Norwich Foodbank, said: “The increasing use of foodbanks in our country must be a wake-up call to the nation. They show that rising living costs coupled with stagnant wages and benefits are forcing more people to live on a financial knife edge, where any change in circumstance can plunge them into poverty. One single mum said to me recently “Thank God I live in a city that has a foodbank.” This was a reminder that many people in the UK are in towns and cities that do not have foodbanks where care agencies can refer local people to in a crisis. My plea is that politicians of all parties do not look to point fingers but look to find solutions.”

Jess Asato, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich North, said: “It is only The Labour Party coming up with the policies which will reduce the need for people to visit Foodbanks. We are doing this by increasing people’s take home pay and job security and reducing their household bills. The Tories simply see Foodbanks as a way to pass the cost from the state to the charitable sector.

13 comments

  • I think that in this day and age it is disgraceful and shameful that anyone, no matter how feckless some of the ungenerous posters below think they may be, has to rely on a foodbanks to feed the self and their children. I am appalled that Chloe Smith, Norman Lamb and Simon Wright put their consciences aside and voted with the government in this situation. I'm sorry if I was mistaken but I thought Britain was a good Christian country, not a third world disaster.

    Report this comment

    PaulWho

    Saturday, December 21, 2013

  • all big cities have got a foodbank .Nearly all towns have got them and soon villages will have them. Foodbanks are evidence that the three party system has failed the british people

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Dear Mr Cooper, after reading several articles on this website where you have kindly contributed your opinions I can only assume that you you have no compassion or kindness. Please tell me i have misread your comment and all you are upset about is the need for foodbanks and that you sympathise for those who will need to use them now and in the future??? Yes it was hard in the war and even for decades after, however at no point should we trivialise hunger at any point in our history, as you seem to have done here. In a city where child poverty is a fact we should never disparage any help that goes towards feeding them.

    Report this comment

    avaroe

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • It can only be Asato and Howitt who can turn charity into a political football .Labour increasing people’s take home pay and job security and reducing their household bills. Oh yer! What economic dreamt up, on the hoof opportunistic policy is that.No wonder they got us into this mess to start with.Mr Cooper spot on sir.

    Report this comment

    PaulH

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Avaroe like many other people glibly use the word poverty not understanding the true meaning of the word. Foods banks are in my opinion not the answer to the perceived problem they are trying to address. Many people using them would benefit more from debt counselling, one to one advice on how to manage their lives in a more constructive way etc A parcel of food, which only lasts three days, is hardly the answer. Yes, it makes a lot of people feel good about themselves and gets good headlines for the media and politicians but that’s about it. Once the food parcel has been consumed, what then? Many of the recipients will still be in the same position as before. It`s all getting out of hand and far too political.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Asato it was Labour who caused the problem in the first place, you really haven't got a clue. If you try and force wages up the companies will fold and there will be more unemployed, you are like your union pay masters, short sighted and with very little idea.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Howitt the Tories are the only ones offering a vote on Europe, Labour just want to sell us to the EU. Labour want us to give up our Laws and our Rights and take on all the riff raff that comes our way. Labour want Britian to become a dumping ground then they will buy there votes via benefits.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • @ milecross - I totally disagree with you. It is the creation of food banks that are fuelling the perceived demand not the other way round. The paranoia over food banks is rather reminiscent of WW2 when everyone thought they were doing their bit by handing in their aluminium saucepans and other metal items for the war effort. It was a great piece of propaganda because it was never used. Bit like food banks really. Because everyone else has got one we should have one as well. We must set aside the politics and take a long hard look at what is actually going on.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Albert Cooper !!!!! Well known Archant Troll !!!! Uses a lot of exclamation remarks !!!!!. Sometimes he deliberately misspells words.....and sometimes he forgets to !!!!!!!!!.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • The complete lack of empathy or compassion from Esther McVey,Tory minister prompted one MP to say it was the worst contribution he had heard in 43 years.The sight of Ian Duncan Smith smirking in the debate shows to what an inhuman level the government has sunk.They even refuse to publish their own Defra report on the causes of foodbank use and then have the cheek to call themselves "Compassionate Conservatives".

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • Foodbanks !! I wish all these recipients could have a taste of the war years! The state provides ! The state controls! the socialist credo!

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • People need to wake up the Government is trying its best to cause social cleansing. They go on about people finding work and supporting themselves. The DWP and The Government are the root cause of this problem, end of. If you place people on benefits into a workfare placement they often have an added cost getting to their work placement, and have to buy additional food to feed themselves whilst there. Also the DWP sanctioning people for no real apparent reason, and yes it does go on regardless what THEY say. The EU offer help, and this Government blocks it, no wonder this Government was to be out of the EU so it can control each and everyone of us, or should that be try to kill us off ?

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • @BG, obviously you do not know how food parcels are given out. The system involves vouchers, the only way to obtain those vouchers is to go to an agency that assists clients if they have need for a foodbank voucher. The organisation (in almost all cases these are charities themselves) will provide assistance for example giving budgeting or debt advice. If a client turns down this advice or not seen to be helping resolve their situation often they are not given another one. You can have up to 3 voucher per year, but this is not an entitlement, you cannot walk into the foodbank or charity who provides vouchers and say 'I want my 2nd voucher', you have to have no food (this is hard to prove but the fact you cannot have a 2nd or 3rd normally dissuades those abusing the system), no income to buy food and you have to be seen to try and improve your situation. The foodbank monitor the use of the vouchers to stop abuse of the system. Foodbanks should not be in existence but there is need there, there should be no moaning about foodbanks creating the need because they are feeding the hungry and who really can say this is unacceptable?

    Report this comment

    avaroe

    Friday, December 20, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 10°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT