May 13, 2022 11.16 am

Conservatives accused of ‘shocking lack of empathy’ for struggling people

A Tory MP said people should cook 30p meals rather than use food banks

By Local Democracy Reporter

A Labour councillor says Conservatives have shown a ‘shocking lack of empathy’ over the plight of people struggling with bills.

Tory MP Lee Anderson caused controversy this week by questioning whether food banks were necessary, claiming it was possible to cook nutritious meals for 30p each.

Lincolnshire County Councillor Karen Lee has said many of the problems her constituents experience come back to lack of money rather than cooking skills.

People are facing choices between heating and eating, she says.

“Conservative MPs are suggesting that people are struggling because they lack cooking skills, this show a shocking lack of empathy and insight into the challenges many people face,” said Councillor Lee, who was previously Lincoln MP.

“Cooking and budgeting lessons can be useful if that’s what people want, but it’s not the reason most people are having problems. That comes back to a lack of money.

A Conservative MP said food banks would be unnecessary if people learned to batch cook. | Photo: Lincolnshire Co-op

“Beans on toast may only cost 30p, but you can’t have that for every meal of every day and I’m sure the people of Lincoln would love to hear some more suggestions for 30p meals.

“People are having to choose between heating and eating as the cost of living rises.

“When people come to my surgery with a problem, quite often you unpick that and find that there are actually several problems including physical or mental health issues – and a significant number of those problems come back to lack of money.”

Anyone who needs support with money can call Lincoln City Hall on 01522 881188 and ask to be put through to the Benefits Advice team.

Lee Anderson, the MP for Sutton-in-Ashfield, has defended his comments, saying he was trying to educate people about cooking on a budget.

He told the House of Commons on Wednesday: “I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

When asked whether he believed food banks where necessary, he said it was “exactly my point”.