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Monday, 24 November 2014

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MP speaks out on shocking poverty in Copeland

Shocking figures have revealed that more than one in 10 people living in parts of Copeland rely on food handouts.

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Jamie Reed: ‘The fight for services is only set to intensify’

The number of people using foodbanks has soared by 30 per cent in the past year and there are fears that the problem will only get worse.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed, who has unveiled the worrying figures collated by the North Lakes Foodbank, called food poverty a serious concern in the area and is now calling on the Government to help.

Keith Cartner, community co-ordinator for Mirehouse which has witnessed a dramatic increase, said he was not surprised by the latest statistics as people on the estate were struggling.

He has witnessed first hand how tough it can be, and believes that parents in the area are even going without food to feed their children.

At the end of last year the community centre in Mirehouse began offering vegetable and salad bags at a cut price of £3 to try and ease people’s purse strings, and in just nine months the amount of people using the service has more than doubled.

“People are not any better off at all these days and I have definitely not seen any improvement in Mirehouse,” he told the News & Star.

“People are finding it tough and we have seen more people coming forward for help.”

When they started the food bags, there was around 25 people picking them up, however they get more than 80 now every week.”

Mr Reed said those relying on foodbanks has increased by 29.1 per cent, compared to 2012-2013.

Almost 2,000 people in Copeland were referred to the North Lakes Foodbank in 2013-2014 – an increase of almost 500 people. And it is the areas with the highest level of child poverty, which have the highest level of foodbank use. In the Sandwith ward, which includes Greenbank and Woodhouse, more than one in 10 rely on foodbanks.

Mr Reed, who is Labour’s shadow health minister, has called on the Government to scrap the bedroom tax, which is causing “misery to many” as well as capping energy costs to relieve pressure on household budgets.

“The Government’s spiteful social policies have pushed too many working families into financial hardship,” he added. “Nowhere is this clearer than in the increasing demand for foodbanks. Food poverty is a serious concern in Britain today. The reality is, many people who work tirelessly to make ends meet are a broken washing machine or a large bill away from real financial hardship.”

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