'Absolutely livid': Leeds charity Homeless Street Angels fury after Tory MP blames food poverty on lack of cooking skills and poor budgeting

A Leeds charity have expressed their fury after a Tory MP suggested food poverty was merely a result of individuals being unable to cook.

By Alex Grant
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 4:30 pm

MP Lee Anderson has been criticised for his 'crass and cruel' comments on food banks, with Labour branding the remarks 'beyond belief'.

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The remarks came following a question asked during the second day of the Queen’s Speech debate in the Commons.

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Homeless Street Angels founders Becky (left) and Shelley Joyce.

Mr Anderson commented his belief that there was not 'this massive use for food banks' in the UK, but 'generation after generation who cannot cook properly' and 'cannot budget'.

The remarks have been widely criticised and sparked fury from Leeds charity Homeless Street Angels who say the demand for their services continue to grow.

"I'm absolutely livid. I heard that this morning and I am absolutely livid because a lot of people literally can't afford to pay their bills never mind budget their finances." co-founder, Shelley Joyce, told the YEP.

"Making a broad statement like that is absolutely disgusting. We've got hundreds of families on our register because they can't afford to live and kids are going to school without breakfast."

Research carried out by the Trust also identified that people at food banks had on average just £57 a week to live on after housing costs. Picture: Simon Hulme.

Shelley, who co-founded the charity with her sister Becky, said they were supporting eight families with food parcels before the pandemic - a number which has now increased to 211.

"We are busier than ever. We have people who are sat in darkness, using food out the freezer because their electric has been turned off and they can't even boil the kettle for a cup of tea."

"That's not down to budgeting that is the cost of living and energy prices so to make such a statement about people not being able to budget their finances and not being able to cook is ridiculous."

Between April 2021 and March 2022, the Homeless Street Angels gave out 311 food parcels.

"It's judgemental and it's patronising. People know how to cook." Shelley added.

The Trussell Trust, which heads up a number of local food banks including Leeds North & West and Leeds South & East, have said that no amount of budget management or cooking classes will help those families struggling to survive.

"Food bank need in the UK is about lack of income, not food. Everyone should have enough money in their pockets to afford the essentials." said, Sumi Rabindrakumar, head of policy at the Trussell Trust.

"But they’re skipping meals to feed their children and requesting food products that don’t need heating because they can’t afford to switch on the oven. For millions of families on the very lowest incomes, this isn’t a cost of living crisis, it’s about the cost of surviving."

The Trust are now calling on the Government to bring benefits in line with the cost of living while introducing a commitment in the benefits system to ensure everyone can afford the essentials needed to survive.

Research carried out by the Trust also identified that people at food banks had on average just £57 a week to live on after housing costs.

“Cooking from scratch won’t help families keep the lights on or put food on the table, if they don’t have enough money in their pockets." Sumi, added.