Brent Labour councillors on hunger strike today over ‘food poverty crisis’
PUBLISHED: 14:09 20 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:16 20 January 2014
Labour councillors are taking part in a 24-hour hunger strike today in protest against claims that the government is failing to act on the surge in food poverty.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, has rallied his party colleague to take part in the “Iain Duncan Smith” diet to raise awareness for residents in the borough who cannot afford to feed themselves.
The councillors are backing calls to invite Ian Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Owen Paterson, the Food Minister, to visit local food banks.
They will discuss the invitation during a council meeting this evening.
Cllr Butt said: “I would welcome the opportunity to show Mr Duncan-Smith the fantastic service provided by food banks in my borough.”
The hunger strike follows claims that Tory MPs jeered during a debate on food banks in the House of Commons in December.
During the debate, Mr Duncan Smith allegedly “smirked” his way through proceedings and refused to answer questions from MPs, before slipping out after just one hour.
Mr. Paterson didn’t attend at all.
The special debate in the House of Commons was called by Labour MPs after over 150,000 people signed a petition urging an inquiry into the UK’s growing dependence on food aid.
Cllr Butt continued: “The Tories and Lib Dems are turning a blind eye as rising energy bills, rents and transport fares force families to rely on charity to get by.
“Helping out at a local food bank over the holidays, I met countless parents skipping meals so their kids would have enough to eat.
“While Brent’s Labour councillors are going on the ‘IDS diet’ on a voluntary basis, this is not a choice for vulnerable people in communities across the country.”
A food collection will take place at the beginning of the meeting with all donations being given to the Brent Food Bank and the Sufra NW London food bank.
A government spokesman said action had been taken to help people with the cost of living, including increasing the tax-free personal allowance and freezing council tax and fuel duty.
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