Stephen has today praised churches for helping people who would have faced a "desperate situation" without food banks. His comments came on the day when Labour pledged to bring down the number of people using food banks by tackling low pay and addressing injustices in the benefits system. 

Figures from the Trussell Trust food bank charity show that the number of people using food banks has increased from 41,000 in four years, to 913,000 last year.

Stephen, who was visiting a food bank near the Oasis Trust in Lambeth, said: "The truth is it's turned out in 21st century Britain that it has been the churches uniquely which have been able to put together this extraordinary network of volunteers and help. It's just as well they have, because a lot of people would have been in an absolutely desperate situation without the help of the food banks over the last few years."

Rachel Reeves, shadow work and pensions secretary, added: "The welfare state should be there when people need it and work should pay enough so that people who are working don't have to rely on charity to feed their family. We are determined to reduce the number of people having to go to food banks."

Labour said that emergency food aid should remain just that, and food banks should not be allowed to become a permanent feature of British society.

AuthorStephen Timms