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Tory minister called 'totally out of touch' after labelling food banks 'perfect way' to support vulnerable people

James Morris
Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK

A Tory minister has been criticised as “totally out of touch” after she described food banks as the “perfect way” to support vulnerable people.

Her remarks follow a number of other controversial comments from Conservative MPs about the use of more than 2,000 food banks nationwide.

Thérèse Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, was responding to a Commons question from Coventry South Labour MP Zarah Sultana.

She labelled the need for food banks as a “national scandal”, pointing out there are more in the UK than there are branches of McDonald’s.

Ms Coffey speaking about food bank use in the Commons (Parliamentlive.tv)

Ms Sultana called on Ms Coffey to “accept it is a gross injustice that nurses are forced to food banks while fat cat bosses receive obscene payouts”.

Ms Coffey replied: “She is right to praise the people in her local food bank who support vulnerable people in their area.

“I visited a similar one in my own constituency where working together with food redistribution, we have actually got a perfect way to try and marry the challenges that people do face at difficult times in their life.”

Ms Sultana later summed up the response by saying: “The Tories are totally out of touch.”

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In 2017, then-backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg sparked uproar when he said “the real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there”.

Earlier this month, in a blog about food bank use, New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne said people who receive benefits need “help” with how to spend their money.

The Trussel Trust, who run a nationwide network of food banks, gave out a record number of food parcels in the last year.

The organisation recorded a 23% increase in the number of emergency food parcels given out compared to the previous year.

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