Foodbanks shouldn't be needed in a country like ours, argues Wes Streeting, but the Labour Council is doing its bit to support the brilliant people at Redbridge Foodbank providing much-needed support to people in crisis. This Tory Government is standing up for the wrong people.
Wes Streeting writes:
Today, I launched the foodbank collection point at Redbridge Town Hall, collecting food and supplies for Redbridge Foodbank. I did so with mixed feelings.
Redbridge Foodbank and its volunteers, part of the Trussell Trust, do a fantastic job helping people in crisis. These are good hearted people, supported by the generosity of our community, helping those in need. It's a vital lifeline for many families. Thousands use the food bank each year. But, in a country like ours, charity shouldn't be necessary: no one should go hungry in 21st century Britain.
Charity has an important role to play in alleviating poverty, which is why I'm proud that Redbridge Council will be supporting the Food Bank and why I always buy some extra pasta, baked beans or cereal when I'm in Barkingside Tesco to deposit in the Food Bank collection point. But politicians need to take responsibility for tackling the root causes of poverty.
This Government is taking us in the wrong direction. When Labour was in power, we had ambitious targets to reduce child and pensioner poverty and we were moving in the right direction. The Tories have not only slammed on the brakes, they've put us in reverse gear.
These are tough times for Britain, but this Government stands up for the wrong people. We know there are difficult choices to be made, but why should the wealthiest be receiving generous tax cuts, while working family tax credits frozen? It's not just those out of work that are suffering - too many families where one or both parents are working are reliant on benefits and tax credits to make ends meet.
This week, George Osborne announced changes to tax and benefits that will cost 10 MILLION families an average of £480 - while the top 1 per cent get a tax cut worth £3BILLION.
As Member of Parliament for Ilford North, I'll know which side I'm on. I grew up in a single family reliant on benefits to get by and I worked hard to make sure that when I left school, I could put myself through college and university so that I'd always have the security of a good job. The ingredients that gave me a chance in life - social security, good teachers, job opportunities, a college and university place, decent wages - are those that everyone should have.
I'll stand up for people who want to get on, work hard, make something of themselves and give something back to their country. I'll campaign for measures to tackle poverty, get children the best start in life and make sure that there are jobs, apprenticeships and training opportunities available for everyone. And I'll stand up for a welfare state that catches people when they fall and gives them a hand up to get back on their feet and back to work.
The work of the Trussell Trust and Redbridge Foodbank is amazing and so is the generosity of people in Redbridge. But the existence of poverty in 21st century Britain is a sign of political failure and a moral outrage. Nothing motivates me more in politics than a burning ambition to end poverty and promote equal life chances and decent living standards for everyone.