Opposition MPs have accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of “insulting” people who use food banks by suggesting they were often responsible for their own predicaments. “They are not best able to manage their finances,” he explained.
Mr Gove said that the government would provide both financial aid and support to help them make better decisions. But Labour’s Steve McCabe said the remarks, made on Monday in the Commons, showed that Mr Gove was “out of touch”.
Mr Gove had said during his departmental question session with MPs: “I had the opportunity to visit a food bank in my constituency only on Friday and I appreciate that there are families who do face considerable pressures. It’s often as a result of some decisions that have been taken by those families which mean that they are not best able to manage their finances. What we need to do is to ensure the support is there not just financially but also to make sure that the right decisions are made.”
Mr McCabe said: “Michael Gove has managed to be both insulting and out of touch. Families forced to go to food banks should not be stigmatised by secretaries of state. The spiraling number of food banks across Britain should be a mark of shame for this government.”
The education secretary had been responding to a question from Labour’s Luciana Berger, who raised concerns about food banks distributing school uniforms to parents. She said on Tuesday that she was “appalled” by his response. “I have visited several food banks and I have spoken to many service users,” she said. “There are many parents both in and out of work who are struggling to get by because they have been hit by this government’s cost-of-living crisis. People I have met are ashamed to have to turn to food banks. I vehemently disagree it is because they have mismanaged their finances. This government has got no answer to the millions of parents that are really struggling to get by.”
Oxfam has said the rising number of people using food banks is due to low wages, rising prices and failings in the welfare system that are dragging people into poverty.
Firstly, why on earth is the Education Secretary criticising families on food banks? Don’t you think he has enough on his plate with his pathetic attempts to ‘improve’ the education system which has now been delayed a year because it was tried to be rushed in due to his incompetence? Secondly, Mr Gove have you ever had to rely on food banks before and have any understanding of why families are forced to turn to them, whether they like the idea or not? I would love to see you try living below the poverty line which is becoming more and more common in this country with the flattening and sometimes falling wages and rising food prices and fuel costs, instead of the bumper salaries and fraudulent expenses politicians claim these days. So as a message to any politicians who may want to read this blog: Why don’t you try living in the real world for a change? We keep hearing about ‘economic growth faster than expected’, but the only people who feel the benefits of that are those at the top end of the economic scale, while those at the bottom end continue to be squeezed further and further into the poverty line. Utterly disgraceful comments from Gove, and not for the first time.