Prime Minister challenged over ‘legacy’ of food banks in Hartlepool
Prime Minister Theresa May was challenged about the number of food charities in Hartlepool by the town’s MP.
MP Mike Hill asked the outgoing Mrs May during Prime Minister’s Questions, if she was proud that there are seven food banks and charities in the town which he linked to Universal Credit.
Mr Hill said in Parliament: “Hartlepool is a trial area for Universal Credit, and we now have seven food banks.
“Is that a legacy of which the Prime Minister can be proud?”
Mrs May defended Universal Credit, which replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment for people out of work or on a low income, saying it is helping people into work and earn more.
She said: “No one wants to see someone feeling the need to go to a food bank, but what Universal Credit does is ensure that people are helped into work, and that work pays.
“As they earn more, they are able to keep more of those earnings. Work is the best route out of poverty, and Universal Credit is working to ensure that people get into work and can provide for themselves and their families.”
Among the charities in town that say they have seen demand due to issues people have experienced with Universal Credit are Hartlepool Foodbank in Church Street and St Aidan’s Church kitchen, which provides a free meal to more than 100 people every Thursday.
Mr Hill said: “There are at least seven places in Hartlepool where people can access food for nothing or very low cost.
“It’s clear from our post bag and listening to many other organisations across the town who deal with people on Universal Credit that although some people do benefit from being on it, an awful lot of people struggle.
“That’s why I wanted to make the point to the Prime Minister that Hartlepool has seven food banks and that clearly shows there are people in genuine need.
“I wanted her to admit that Universal Credit needs fixing because right now for many people it’s broken, and I’m afraid not only did she not answer the question but she was also evasive.”