‘There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. People just can’t cook or budget’: Tory MP faces fury after blaming cost-of-living struggles on families not being able to prepare ‘a meal from scratch’
- Ashfield MP Lee Anderson says there’s ‘not this massive use for food banks’ in UK
- He suggests food bank use is from those who ‘can’t cook’ and ‘can’t budget’
- Opposition MPs berate him for his ‘cruel’ comments during cost-of-living crisis
A Tory MP today faced a furious backlash after he suggested struggling Britons are only using food banks because they ‘can’t cook a meal from scratch’ and ‘can’t budget’.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson caused the uproar as he claimed there was ‘not this massive use for food banks’ in Britain.
He also offered an invitation for Opposition MPs to visit a scheme in his own constituency that represented ‘a real food bank’ and allowed people to ‘make a meal for about 30p a day’.
He was berated for his ‘crass and cruel’ comments as Britons up and down the country face a cost-of-living crisis due to soaring prices.
Mr Anderson, who earns £84,144 a year as an MP, provoked the row as he spoke in a Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson caused the uproar as he claimed there was ‘not this massive use for food banks’ in Britain
The former Labour councillor defected to the Tories before his election to Parliament in 2019 as part of Boris Johnson’s 80-seat majority
Addressing MPs on the Opposition benches, he urged them to ‘come to Ashfield and work with me for a day in my food bank and see the brilliant scheme we have got in place where when people come now for a food parcel, they have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course’.
‘What we do in the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,’ he added.
‘We can make a meal for about 30 pence a day. And this is cooking from scratch.”
Labour MP Alex Cunningham intervened to ask Mr Anderson whether he thought it ‘necessary to have food banks in 21st century Britain’.
Mr Anderson replied: ‘He makes a great point and this is exactly my point.
‘So, I invite you personally to come to Ashfield, look at our food bank, how it works and I think you will see first hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country.
‘But generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget. The challenge is there.
‘Come, come. I’ll offer anybody.’
Noting the reaction of other MPs to his remarks, he added: ‘You’re sat there with glazed expressions on your faces looking like I’ve landed from a different planet.
‘Come, come to Ashfield, come next week, come the week after, come to a real food bank that’s making a real difference to people’s lives.’
The Trussell Trust charity runs more than 1,400 food bank centres across the UK.
There are also estimated to be 1,200 independent food banks in addition to those run by the Trussell Trust, Salvation Army and those based in schools.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry told Mr Anderson food banks were needed ‘because we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government’
Responding directly to Mr Anderson’s comments in the Commons, the SNP’s Joanna Cherry said: ‘All of us have food banks in our constituency.
‘We don’t really need to visit his because we’re perfectly well aware of the requirement for them.
‘But the requirement for them is not because people don’t know how to cook, it’s because we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government.’
Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi also attacked Mr Anderson’s ‘astonishing’ remarks.
She posted on Twitter: ‘A genuinely astonishing comment from someone who represents an area with almost 30% of children living in poverty.
‘It would appear he has no clue of what life is like on the ground for so many of his constituents.’
Fellow Labour MP Angela Eagle said Mr Anderson’s comments were ‘crass and cruel in equal measure’.
Last summer, Mr Anderson refused to watch England’s games at Euro 2020 in protest at the men’s national football team taking the knee before matches in an anti-racism stance.
The MP criticised the gesture’s association with the Black Lives Matter political movement.