Earlier today MPs held a debate in the House of Commons about the growing dependence on emergency food from Foodbanks.
The Labour Party called for the debate after more than 150,000 people signed a petition calling for an inquiry into Foodbank dependence, following an astronomical rise in those using them in the last year. The Trussell Trust - the charity which runs Foodbanks - confirm that 500,000 people have used Foodbanks since April 2013 alone.
In the debate, Stephen asked Conservative MP Stephen Mosley:
"I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman can help us with a puzzle. When the Government took office, Ministers perfectly properly made a lot of the announcement that in the future jobcentres would be able to refer people to food banks. However, that appears now to have changed. I received a written answer from the former Minister, the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr Hoban), which states:
“Jobcentre Plus …does not refer people to food banks or issue vouchers.”—[Official Report, 4 September 2013; Vol. 567, c. 373W.]
Can the hon. Member for City of Chester (Stephen Mosley) help us to understand why there has been that change?"
You can read Mr Mosley's response, and the full debate, here.
Labour's motion calling on the government to reduce dependency on food bank was eventually defeated by 294 votes to 251, a majority of 43 as Tories and Lib Dems combined to vote it down.
Speaking after the debate, Stephen said: "Today's debate has highlighted the scandal of food poverty in our country. Foodbanks are providing a lifeline to those worst affected by the cost of living crisis with half a million people using one since April 2013. Yet, some government MPs appeared to laugh as stories of struggling families were recounted in the chamber. This is no laughing matter. This is a disgrace. David Cameron must publish the government's report into food poverty without further delay. It is time for action."