Cameron distances himself from Lord Freud's comments over food banks

Former Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett condemned Lord Freud's words as inaccurate and insensitive

David Cameron distanced himself today from comments by a minister questioning whether there was a link between the soaring use of food banks and cuts to benefit payments.

As reported by The Independent, Lord Freud suggested more people were using the banks because more of them existed - and denied they were even part of the welfare system.

Mr Cameron was challenged over the remarks by Stephen Timms, the shadow Employment Minister, during Prime Minister's Question Time.

Mr Timms asked him: "There was demand for food banks from 30,000 households in the year before the general election, but the figure was 350,000 households last year.

"Will you acknowledge, unlike Lord Freud, that rocketing demand for food banks shows we have a problem?"

Mr Cameron refused to reply directly, telling MPs that food bank use went up ten times under Labour and pointing to Government measures to ease the tax burden on the low-paid.

David Blunkett, a former Work and Pensions Secretary, condemned Lord Freud's words as inaccurate, inopportune and insensitive.

"It is deeply insulting to those giving their time, and to the individuals, organisations and retailers providing food, to suggest it is simply that people wish to get food for free, rather than grinding necessity," Mr Blunkett said.

This is not least because of the work that is done by the organisers of food banks to check the authenticity, level of need and because Lord Freud's own Department often refer people direct to their local food bank.

"This is a man who is out of touch with the reality of poverty and out of touch with what his own officials are rightly doing."