Priti Patel has been criticised for arrogantly dismissing the government’s role in poverty while stood in a food bank in Barrow.
The Home Secretary attempted to push blame onto local authorities during an interview, even though local government has suffered “enormously from vicious Tory cuts”, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said.
When told that four in 10 children in parts of Barrow, Cumbria, are born into poverty, she told BBC North West Tonight: “Well it’s appalling.
“But of course everybody, and it’s not just people in Westminster, it’s not just at a national level it’s at a local level.”
"You can't blame the Government for poverty." The Home Secretary has been in #Barrow today where Labour has a margin of just 209. Will she win enough voters over? More with @Ninawarhurst tonight. pic.twitter.com/PXYijxCOmW— BBC North West (@BBCNWT) November 20, 2019
Government is not responsible for poverty
Responding to the suggestion that nine years of Tory rule were responsible, she said: “Well it’s not the Government though is it?
“Everybody just says it’s the Government as if it’s this sort of like bland blob that you know, you can just go and blame.”
Asked if she was saying the Government was not responsible for poverty, she replied: “Well, it’s not.
“Because it’s all parts of society and the structures.
“Local authorities have a role to play, education and public services, which are locally led and locally run.”
According to the most recent figures, councils will have suffered cuts in core funding from the Government of £16 billion in the decade to 2020.
And authorities face an alarming funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025, it was warned last year.
The government’s austerity programme was also blamed for a record use of food banks this year.
More than 820,000 emergency food parcels were given out in the last six months, marking the busiest period in the charity’s history.
Some 301,653 went to children, a 23 per cent increase on the same period in 2018.
Chief executive Emma Revie said: “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.
“This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed – our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty.
“This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.
“We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit; ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living; and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.”