Blackburn health expert warns Government over welfare cuts
PUBLIC health expert Dominic Harrison has blasted the Government for failing to recognise the link between welfare cuts and food poverty.
The director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen Council was one of six leading academics to sign a letter to the British Medical Journal this week, warning ministers of a potential ‘public health emergency’.
It comes amid reports that people are struggling to feed themselves, with the UK Red Cross now asking for food donations for the first time since the Second World War.
In October, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how the number of people using food banks in East Lancashire has more than tripled in the last year.
We have launched a campaign urging people to donate goods to their local foodbanks to help those in greatest need. Mr Harrison, who is also connected to the Department of Public Health and Policy at University of Liverpool, said: “In all senses that are meaningful, the UK is now showing strong evidence of a food poverty crisis.
“In the seventh wealthiest country in the world, ensuring we all have enough food to eat, it seems, is something the state is now prepared to leave to charities.
“Government ministers are claiming there is no robust evidence of a link between welfare reform and increasing food bank use.
“Yet the rise in food bank use is clearly associated with the rise in the cost of living, high energy prices, the imposition of bedroom tax and ‘benefit sanctions’ which catapult citizens with already high levels of personal debt into food poverty.
“As the multiple effects of debt, the financial crises and welfare reforms collapse into view it is likely that the public will feel that charity is not enough on this issue.”
A Government spokesman said: “The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to the increased use of food banks.”
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