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Baker hits out at Bucks poverty levels in food bank debate
STEVE Baker said yesterday it is "a scandalous indictment of the welfare state" that up to one in three children in his constituency go to bed hungry.
The Wycombe MP was speaking in the House of Commons during a debate called by Labour demanding the government reduces public dependency on food banks.
Work and Pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith was widely criticised for leaving the debate without answering questions, while a speech from his deputy Esther McVey was described by veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman as the 'nastiest' he had heard in 43 years in politics.
The number of food banks - which provide food and financial assistance to the poor - in the country has increased markedly over the last decade, MPs were told.
Mr Baker said 12,000 children in Buckinghamshire live in income poverty, as he revealed details of his own upbringing when he said he would often go hungry as well.
He said: "My father did absolutely everything he could, but where was the welfare state? It was not there for him, because it did not know what to do for an independent, self-employed man who had run out of work.
"Unfortunately, that went on and on, to and fro, in the legacy of the previous Government - it was tough for a self-employed builder. My father coped by finding further work. My mother took on two and even three tough jobs.
"I saw her get arthritis in her hands, ageing her early, all because there was no food. What happened eventually is, of course, that they divorced, and my mother went on to live with a man who could at least put food on the table. So I certainly know the consequences - I live with them today - of having too little food in a home."
Mr Baker added: "The quality and quantity of welfare produced by the state has not been good enough for a very long time. It is astonishing and shaming that the welfare state can tax and spend so much, and yet leave people hungry.
"Some 12,000 children in Buckinghamshire live in income poverty, and one in five children in Wycombe go to bed hungry. That increases to one in three in some parts of my constituency. It is a scandalous indictment of the safety net that is the welfare state that this happens."
Mr Baker praised the work of the Wycombe-based charity the One Can Trust, naming Sarah Mordaunt and Kate Vale as the leaders of a group of 100 volunteers.
He said: "The One Can Trust has delivered 2,859 parcels since March 2012, reaching 3,182 adults and more than 2,000 children. Without the trust, poverty in Wycombe would be truly desperate."
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