Michael Gove 'insulted' food-bank users, says Labour

Media caption,
Michael Gove said some food banks users were failing to manage their finances

Opposition MPs have accused Education Secretary Michael Gove of "insulting" people who use food banks by suggesting they were often responsible for their own predicaments.

"They are not best able to manage their finances," he explained.

Mr Gove said that the government would provide both financial aid and support to help them make better decisions.

But Labour's Steve McCabe said the remarks, made on Monday in the Commons, showed that Mr Gove was "out of touch".

Mr Gove had said during his departmental question session with MPs: "I had the opportunity to visit a food bank in my constituency only on Friday and I appreciate that there are families who do face considerable pressures.

"It's often as a result of some decisions that have been taken by those families which mean that they are not best able to manage their finances.

"What we need to do is to ensure the support is there not just financially but also to make sure that the right decisions are made."

'Vehemently disagree'

Mr McCabe said: "Michael Gove has managed to be both insulting and out of touch.

"Families forced to go to food banks should not be stigmatised by secretaries of state. The spiralling number of food banks across Britain should be a mark of shame for this government."

The education secretary had been responding to a question from Labour's Luciana Berger, who raised concerns about food banks distributing school uniforms to parents.

She said on Tuesday that she was "appalled" by his response.

"I have visited several food banks and I have spoken to many service users," she said.

"There are many parents both in and out of work who are struggling to get by because they have been hit by this government's cost-of-living crisis.

"People I have met are ashamed to have to turn to food banks. I vehemently disagree it is because they have mismanaged their finances.

"This government has got no answer to the millions of parents that are really struggling to get by."

Oxfam has said the rising number of people using food banks is due to low wages, rising prices and failings in the welfare system that are dragging people into poverty.

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