NORTH Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood has said it is time to focus on those in food poverty and to stop politicising the problem.
Mr Isherwood raised the matter with the Minister for Poverty Communities and Tackling Poverty, Jeff Cuthbert AM, in the Assembly this week following a meeting with Trussell Trust, which works with churches and communities to open new foodbanks nationwide.
With over 420 foodbanks currently launched across the UK, including several across Wales their goal is for every town to have one.
He said: “I had the pleasure of meeting the admirable Trussell Trust last week. The Trust told me that food banks are an expression of something that has been going on in the churches for ever, namely feeding the hungry, that food poverty has been with us for ever, and it asked that we all work together, putting aside whatever party political differences we may have, to focus on those in need.
“They told me that they will be putting this message to all parties and all agents. I pledged my support, and I urge you to do the same.”
In his response the Minister said he hopes to meet with Trussell Trust soon to discuss the extent of the problem in Wales, but insisted benefit reform is to blame for more people seeking help from food banks.
Mr Isherwood added: “Given the Trussell Trust’s desire to engage with all spectrums of the political divide and to ensure that there is truly genuine dialogue in Wales, I’m disappointed by the response I received.
“In reality, 200,000 households across Wales are expected to be better off when Universal Credit changes have gone through by 2017. Under the last UK Labour Government, the numbers in poverty across the UK rose by nearly 400,000 and the numbers in severe poverty rose by nearly 800,000 – and more than five million people of working age lived in workless households.
“However, I genuinely hope that we can all put party bickering aside and heed Trussell Trust’s call.”
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