Barbara Keeley MP


Salford Advertiser Column, 25 April 2013

A new foodbank is opening at Cleggs Lane Methodist Church in Little Hulton, backed by the Trussell Trust and staffed by volunteers.  Back in 2008, foodbanks helped only 26,000. In 2012, the Trussell Trust helped 280,000 people nationally with essential food.

The Trust provides support to get foodbanks going and Salford Citizens Advice, City West, Salford Council and others also run food projects or foodbanks.

About 18 months ago, I realised that local churches were providing urgently needed donations of food to families. For one church in Irlam, Harvest Festival changed into work with a local charity to collect food for families in need.  At meetings with churches in Eccles, Walkden and Little Hulton, I started to realise the scale of this need.

I have seen a steady rise in constituents needing help because they are desperate financially. They cannot manage to pay their bills and provide enough food for their families. Much of this is caused by arbitrary decisions to cut off benefits, decisions which are often reversed on appeal.

However, greater impact is now being felt from cuts to tax credits and benefits made by the Conservative-led Government.  This year, average household income will be cut by £891 and a couple with children and two earners will be £1,869 worse off.

Child benefit is frozen for all families and cut for many. The “granny tax” means that many pensioners will lose £68 a year and those turning 65 this year will lose £268. At the same time as cuts are affecting the vulnerable, pensioners and families, the richest in our society are being given a tax handout. 13,000 people earning over £1 million get an average tax cut of £100,000. All those earning £150,000 or more will see their tax cut.

The priorities of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government do not make sense and I will continue to challenge them in Parliament. In the meantime, I hope that some of those enjoying a tax cut from this Government might plough some of it back to local foodbanks helping the most vulnerable in our community.

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