Britain’s largest union, Unite accused the government of a ‘Whitehall whitewash’ and trying to bury bad news following today’s (Thursday 20 February) publication of a report into food poverty for the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Delayed for a year, the report was unable to look at the impact of government welfare reforms or the continuing crisis in living standards that is gripping communities across the UK.
Commenting, Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “The government has sat on this report for nearly a year, refusing to publish it, refusing to meet with food bank providers, hoping the growing scandal of food poverty will go away.
“This is a ‘Whitehall whitewash’. Ministers and advisers have spent a year poring over it to remove the unpalatable truth that the government has created a national crisis, punishing people when they need help, presiding over a dramatic rise in food bank use while George Osborne squeezes living standards in a way unseen since the Victorian era.
“Forbidden from considering the impact of the government’s policies, this report cannot hope to offer any sense on why increasing numbers of ordinary people are turning to food banks. The food insecurity it talks of is the cause of benefit chaos and shocking low wages. Half a million people use food banks, not as the Tories would have it because there are more of them, but because they are poor and they are hungry.
“Nearly a year into the government’s so-called welfare reforms David Cameron’s moral mission really has lost its way when mums go hungry to feed their kids and people return food to foodbanks because they cannot afford the fuel to cook it.
“This report takes us no further forward. We need an urgent national inquiry to expose why so many ordinary people are relying on food hand-outs and what the government of the seventh richest nation in the world can do to eradicate growing food poverty in this country. “
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Notes to editors
• Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.