Government U-turn may see £3m share of European aid used to support food banks, claims Labour MEP

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The Government may soon start using European aid money to support food banks in Britain, reversing its previous decision to put it towards other schemes, a Labour MEP will claim today.

Richard Howitt will say that at meeting of officials in Brussels this week, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) appeared to be changing its stance on the issue. The formal application for Britain’s £3 million share of the new fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived is due to be submitted in September.

The MEP has invited Laszlo Andor, the European Commissioner responsible for food aid, to attend a food bank in his Bedfordshire constituency today which he said demonstrates “the scale of hunger and poverty within Britain”.

Mr Howitt said: “The Government appears to be buckling under the pressure of the campaign to end its callous boycott of EU funds intended for food banks, which is taking away money for the most deprived and destitute people in our society.

“There is £3m of food aid available now from Europe. The Government needs to make this U-turn, immediately drop its ideological opposition and put food back in to the mouths of the hungry.”

The Government has previously argued that the money should be used on other schemes to help deprived people. A DWP spokesman said last night that its position had not changed. “We are not saying no to this money, but we are saying no to Europe telling us how it should be spent. We do not accept that it has to be spent on food banks,” he added. “Any money in this fund comes directly off our structural fund budget which helps disadvantaged people into work.”