Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Tory MP urged to apologise over claim food bank users ‘cannot cook properly’

Tory MP Lee Anderson suggested people using food banks do not know how to cook or budget (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Tory MP Lee Anderson suggested people using food banks do not know how to cook or budget (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A Conservative MP faces calls to apologise after suggesting people in the UK use food banks because they “cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

Ashfield MP, Lee Anderson, invited “everybody” on the opposition benches in the House of Commons to visit a food bank in Ashfield, Notts, where, when people come for a food parcel, they now need to register for a “budgeting course” and a “cooking course”.

When asked by a Labour MP if it should be necessary to have food banks in 21st century Britain, Mr Anderson said there is not “this massive use for food banks” in the UK, but “generation after generation who cannot cook properly” and “cannot budget”.

His comments, which came during the second day of the Queen’s Speech debate in the Commons, have been harshly criticised, with some urging the Ashfield MP to apologise.

Lee Anderson court hearing
Lee Anderson said the problem was that people did not know to cook or budget (PA)

Labour branded his remarks “beyond belief”, whilst the Liberal Democrats described them as “disgraceful” and the SNP said they were “crass”.

The Child Poverty Action Group claimed politicians “would do better to back real-world solutions, like bringing benefits in line with inflation this autumn” and the Trussell Trust charity insisted “cooking meals from scratch won’t help families keep the lights on or put food on the table, if they don’t have enough money in their pockets”.

The Trades Union Congress insisted the comments showed “how out of touch Conservative MPs and ministers are with the cost of living emergency”.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West), the subsequent speaker in the Commons debate, told Mr Anderson people do not use food banks because they do not know how to cook, but because “we have poverty in this country at a scale that should shame his Government”.

Brexit
Joanna Cherry said the scale of poverty in the UK should shame the Government (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Anderson said: “My invitation is to everybody on that side of the House, come to Ashfield and work with me for a day in my food bank and see the brilliant scheme we have got in place where when people come now, for a food parcel, they have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course.

“And what we do in the food bank, we show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget.

“We can make a meal for about 30 pence a day.

“And this is cooking from scratch.”

Intervening, Labour MP, Alex Cunningham (Stockton North), asked: “Should it be necessary to have food banks in 21st century Britain?”

Mr Anderson replied: “He makes a great point and this is exactly my point.

“So, I invite you personally to come to Ashfield, look at our food bank, how it works and I think you will see first hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country but generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can’t cook a meal from scratch.

“They cannot budget.

“The challenge is there.

“Come, come. I’ll offer anybody.”

Responding to Mr Anderson’s food banks comments, shadow work and pensions minister, Karen Buck, said: “In the world where people actually live, we now hear daily stories of families going without food and others unable to turn their ovens on in fear of rising energy bills.

“The idea that the problem is cooking skills and not 12 years of Government decisions that are pushing people into extreme poverty is beyond belief.

“Out of touch doesn’t even cover it.”

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokeswoman, Wendy Chamberlain, said in a statement outside the Commons: “These comments are disgraceful and an insult to millions of hard-working people who are struggling to put food on the table for their family through no fault of their own.

“Lee Anderson should apologise straight away for his shameful remarks.”

SNP work and pensions spokeswoman, Kirsty Blackman, said: “These comments from a Tory MP that people who use foodbanks do so because they don’t know how to cook or budget are reprehensible, but they also highlight how out of touch this broken Tory Government is with ordinary people.”

Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group’s chief executive, said: “Rather than insulting parents who have no option but to use foodbanks in the face of soaring costs and real terms income cuts, politicians would do better to back real-world solutions, like bringing benefits in line with inflation this autumn.”

Similarly, TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said that “rather than being condescending, Conservative politicians should be putting pressure on the Chancellor to call an emergency budget”.