General election: Tory ignorance of food banks exposed in figures blunder, Labour says

‘It shows the Tories are so out of touch they don’t even know how food banks operate’

Labour pledges to halve food bank usage in first year in government

Conservatives have been accused of ignorance over how food banks operate in the UK, after incorrectly suggesting Labour had inflated figures on the scale of the problem.

It comes as Labour said it would “wage war” against poverty in the UK and reverse austerity measures introduced over the last nine years if Jeremy Corbyn wins power at the election next month.

Highlighting ways the party believed the Tories had failed to tackle poverty, Labour claimed that food banks have “given out 65 million meals” over the last five years.

But launching its “Labour lies unit” on Tuesday evening – to call out “false claims and statistics” – the Conservatives accused the party of artificially inflating figures provided by the largest provider of emergency food packages, the Trussell Trust.

Citing Labour’s claim on meals, the Conservatives said: “This is false. In 2018-19, the Trussell Trust gave out 1.6 million food bank parcels.

“In the last five years, the Trussell Trust gave out around 6.3 million parcels – a tenth of what Labour are claiming.”

However, each emergency “food parcel” handed out by the organisation contains at least ten meals – three days’ worth of food for one individual, the charity said.

The Trussell Trust’s own figures show nearly 6.3 million of these parcels were given out between 2014 and 2019, or the equivalent of 63 million meals.

The organisation also emphasises that its own figures do not fully show the scale of food bank use, as they only account for parcels given out by the charity’s 1,200-strong network – around two-thirds of all food banks in the UK.

It means Labour’s claim that food banks have handed out “65 million meals” over the last five years is likely to underestimate the scale of food bank use in Britain.

Labour’s election coordinator, Andrew Gwynee, said: “This response from the Tory fake news unit is beyond parody. It shows the Tories are so out of touch they don’t even know how food banks operate.”

He continued: “Each food parcel contains enough for three meals a day for three days. Under the Tories, austerity has meant 65 million meals have been given out over the last five years.”

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