Debates between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Viscount Younger of Leckie during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 9th Jan 2023

Food Banks

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Viscount Younger of Leckie
Monday 9th January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the long-term need for food banks.

Viscount Younger of Leckie Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con)
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My Lords, food banks are independent charitable organisations where local communities come together to support one another. This is a great example of the generosity of spirit across the country. The Government have no formal role in monitoring or projecting the activities of food banks. However, we understand the pressures that individuals are facing, and that is why we are taking action to support people across the UK, including by increasing benefits by 10.1% in April.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his reply and congratulate him on his new appointment; although he is experienced on the Front Bench, this is a new position.

A survey published yesterday revealed that more than half of NHS trusts and hospital boards are either providing or looking into the possibility of providing food banks for their medical staff. Six of those hospitals together revealed that more than 5,000 of their medical staff are looking for help from food banks every month, of which 550 are nurses. Is there not something fundamentally askew when, in an advanced wealthy country such as ours, people doing a hard day’s work, including essential jobs such as nursing, are unable to earn enough to live on without having to seek help from food banks? Will the Government consider setting a target date for when wages will rise enough so that people can earn enough without seeking help?

Viscount Younger of Leckie Portrait Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con)
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I thank the noble and right reverend Lord for his most kind words. I have clearly taken on an important but sensitive brief.

I am well aware of the issue surrounding nurses, as we all are in this House. We take this issue seriously. The first thing is to look at food bank usage. The noble and right reverend Lord might know that we have included specific questions in the family resources survey to measure and track food bank usage. The FRS is a highly recognised publication used by government and academics alike. This should draw out the information needed to look further at what we can do, particularly in the NHS sector.