So today I got a response to my blog post from Amber Rudd, who is the Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, where I live. I do She is an MP who genuinely seems to have a heart for the area, which is really refreshing! Because of that, I was genuinely disappointed when she voted against the motion in the House of Commons to investigate the rise in the use of foodbanks. Just thought it fair to share her response…
Dear Ms Green,
Thank you for your email of 24 April following the article in the Mail on Sunday regarding the use of Foodbanks. I have read your blog post with interest and was pleased to hear the amount raised for the Trussell Trust, it is certainly a very worthy cause.
Please be assured that I do appreciate that many families are facing tough times as a result of the worst recession in a century. The response of the volunteers and organisers that run foodbanks is in line with the very proud traditions of this country’s voluntary sector, including churches, and should be commended.
We are providing support for foodbanks with out social action fund with 81 Trussell Trust run foodbank franchises having already benefited from this funding. I am proud that £1.7 million has also been granted to Tearfund which is running programmes to tackle a variety of local issues including foodbanks and food poverty.
I am conscious that the reasons behind foodbank use are complicated and varied. Nonetheless, no one should be in a position where they have to visit a foodbank, and I am pleased that our welfare reforms are breaking the cycle of dependency and helping people build a better life for themselves and their families.
Under this government, there are 1.3 million more people in jobs than in 2010 and the introduction of Universal Credit will make 3 million families better off by around £174 per month. Moreover, to support families and tackle poverty, the Government is delivering an income tax reduction worth up to £700 a year to over 25 million people.
Seeing these reforms through is at the heart of our long term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain, and it is at the heart of our social and moral mission in politics today.
Our local foodbank in Hastings provides an important service within our community and I am committed to supporting the foodbanks in my constituency. The Government is also supporting foodbanks. I am proud that we have lifted the restrictions on food banks which previously prevented Jobcentres from notifying people about the support available.
I was disappointed that the opposition chose to politicise this issue. It is clear that people visit food banks for a variety of different reasons which need to be understood. The use of foodbanks went up tenfold during the previous administration and that was when the country was experiencing a period of sustained economic growth.
You may be interested to know that I am visiting our local Foodbank at the Hastings Centre on 16 May. I shall be assisting the volunteers and talking with their clients to see how I can help and support them further.
Thank you again for taking the time and trouble to contact me and for sharing your concerns. Please do let me know if I can be of any further assistance or support.
I need to have a further think about this and about how I want to reply. In the meantime, what I would say is this – Ms Rudd, I have many points still of concern and query. But thank you for caring about your constituents and for answering, and for taking the time to visit the foodbank. More than anything else, that’s what I’m after – to see people stop making assumptions, and see the reality for themselves.